In what will not be news to anyone who’s played a round of "goth stereotyping", researchers have announced that teenage goths are more likely to be depressed. A study looked at 3,694 15-year old based in the Bristol area and found that teenagers who self-identify as goths and immersed themselves in the subculture three times as likely to be depressed as their non-goth peers. However, the researchers were unable to determine whether being a goth caused someone to be depressed, or whether being depressed led to identifying as a goth.
"Our study does not show that being a goth causes depression or self-harm but rather that some young goths are more vulnerable to developing these conditions," Lucy Bowes, lead author of the study told the Guardian. Other participants in the study were reportedly asked to identify themselves by choosing from a strange list of stereotypes, including "sporty", "populars", "skaters", "chavs", "loners", "keeners", and "bimbos". Teenagers who self-identified as "sporty" were said to be least likely to have self-harmed by 18, whereas goths were found to be around five times more likey to self-harm.
The study offers the theory that the goth subculture provides a valuable safety net and community for individuals unwilling to conform to conventional standards and a meeting ground for socialising with people who suffer with the same issues. "Teenagers who are susceptible to depression or with a tendency to self-harm might be attracted to the goth subculture which is known to embrace marginalised individuals from all backgrounds, including those with mental health problems," said Dr Rebecca Pearson from the University of Bristol.
The authors conclude that more should be done to help and support young goths and identify those most at risk.