Intended for healthcare professionals


Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 04 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1058
  1. Robert Young, research associate (robert{at},
  2. Helen Sweeting, research scientist,
  3. Patrick West, senior research scientist
  1. MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8RZ
  1. Correspondence to: R Young
  • Accepted 15 February 2006


Objective To investigate whether deliberate self harm is associated with contemporary Goth youth subculture.

Design Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting School and community based study of young people living in the Central Clydeside Conurbation, Scotland.

Participants 1258 people aged 19, surveyed in 2002-4 and followed-up since age 11 (1994).

Main outcome measures Lifetime prevalence of self harm and attempted suicide and their association with Goth youth subculture, before and after adjusting for confounders.

Results Identification as belonging to the Goth subculture was strongly associated with lifetime self harm and attempted suicide, with a prevalence of 53% and 47%, respectively among the most highly identified group, and evidence for a dose-response relation. Adjusting for potential confounders did not significantly attenuate this association. Analysis of other youth subcultures showed that this effect was primarily associated with Goth subculture.

Conclusions Identification as belonging to the Goth subculture was the best predictor of self harm and attempted suicide. Although based on small numbers, additional longitudinal analysis suggests both selection and modelling mechanisms are involved, selection mechanisms possibly being more likely.


  • Embedded Image Additional tables are on

    This article was posted on on 13 April 2006:

    We thank Michael Van Beinum for help in formulating questions on self harm in adolescence, Chris Lucas for providing the Voice-DISC and software support, and Sally Macintyre and Paul Hodkinson for commenting on draft manuscripts.

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the design and writing up of the study. RY carried out the analysis and is guarantor.

  • Funding All authors are supported financially by the Medical Research Council of Great Britain.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethical approval Glasgow University ethics committee.

View Full Text