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'Goths' more likely to self-harm: Study

Youngsters who have a liking for dark clothes are more likely to bring harm upon themselves.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 13:01 IST

Young people who adopt the "Goth" lifestyle of dark clothes and introspective music are more likely to commit self-harm or attempt suicide than other youngsters, according to a study on Friday.

"Although only fairly small numbers of young people identify themselves as belonging to the Goth subculture, rates of self-harm and attempted suicide are very high among this group," said Robert Young, lead researcher of the Glasgow University study.

The Scottish team described Goths as being a sub-genre of Punk "with a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music".                                              

 Goths are being described as a sub-genre of Punk "with a dark and sinister aesthetic, with aficionados conspicuous by their range of distinctive clothing and makeup and tastes in music".

Shock rockers such as Marilyn Manson are said to be popular amongst Goths and the subculture has often attracted suspicion and criticism from the media.

Two US students who massacred 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 were said to have been fascinated by the Goth image.

The Glasgow researchers studied of 1,258 young people who were quizzed at the ages of 11, 13, 15 and 19 about self harm and their links to various youth cultures.

In the UK, the rate of self harm among young people is between 7-14 percent.

Although other subcultures were associated with self harm, such as Punk, the link was strongest with Goths.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that 53 per cent of those who were linked to the Goth subculture reported self-harm and 47 per cent had attempted suicide.

Even adjusting for other factors, such as alcohol abuse and previous depression, Goth identification was the strongest predictor of self harm or suicide attempts, the report said.

"One common suggestion is they may be copying subcultural icons or peers," Young said.

"But since our study found that more reported self-harm before, rather than after, becoming a Goth, this suggests that young people with a tendency to self-harm are attracted to the Goth subculture."

Michael van Beinum, a child-and-adolescent psychiatrist, said the Goth subculture might be attractive to young people with mental health problems, allowing them to find a community where their distress might be more easily understood.