Self-Harm Rates May Increase Among Those With Alternative Self-Identities
A new study out of Europe suggests that half of teens who identify with alternative sub cultures have a higher tendency toward self-harming behaviors and a fifth of them attempt suicide. The research was conducted through the Medical Research Council at the University of Glasgow, as well as at the University of Ulm. The goal was to look at why these teens tend toward self-injurious behaviors and how the motivations differ. Teens suggested the primary reason behind the behavior was to help regulate tough emotions and communicate difficult times to friends and family members.
The study looked at 452 German students with an age range of 14 to 15 years. Students were asked how strongly they identified with various youth cultures, then they were asked about those risk factors typically associated with self-harm. The result was that those who identified with the alternative cultures were three or four more times likely to engage in self-injurious behavior and six or seven times more likely to attempt suicide than those in other groups. It even made them more likely than those who had been previously bullied to engage in the behavior.
Those teens who identified as athletes were less likely to engage in such behavior, and study authors thought that might be the effect of regular exercise. Those teens who were identified as academic did not tend to experience the exclusion others did, which made them no more likely to self-injure.
One of the lead study authors suggested the research showed how strongly social identity is linked to self-harm. He went on to say that the next step was to determine whether this was a global behavior or one linked only to Western society.