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BMC Psychiatry

, 14:137

Child, adolescent and developmental psychiatry

Abstract

BackgroundThe term ‘self-harm’ encompasses both attempted suicide and non-suicidal self-injury NSSI. Specific adolescent subpopulations such as ethnic or sexual minorities, and more controversially, those who identify as ‘Alternative’ Goth, Emo have been proposed as being more likely to self-harm, while other groups such as ‘Jocks’ are linked with protective coping behaviours for example exercise. NSSI has autonomic it reduces negative emotions and social it communicates distress or facilitates group ‘bonding’ functions. This study explores the links between such aspects of self-harm, primarily NSSI, and youth subculture.

MethodsAn anonymous survey was carried out of 452 15 year old German school students. Measures included: identification with different youth cultures, i.e. Alternative Goth, Emo, Punk, Nerd academic or Jock athletic; social background, e.g. socioeconomic status; and experience of victimisation. Self-harm suicide and NSSI was assessed using Self-harm Behavior Questionnaire and the Functional Assessment of Self-Mutilation FASM.

ResultsAn -Alternative- identity was directly r ≈ 0.3 and a -Jock- identity inversely r ≈ -0.1 correlated with self-harm. -Alternative- teenagers self-injured more frequently NSSI 45.5% vs. 18.8%, repeatedly self-injured, and were 4–8 times more likely to attempt suicide even after adjusting for social background than their non-Alternative peers. They were also more likely to self-injure for autonomic, communicative and social reasons than other adolescents.

ConclusionsAbout half of ‘Alternative’ adolescents’ self-injure, primarily to regulate emotions and communicate distress. However, a minority self-injure to reinforce their group identity, i.e. ‘To feel more a part of a group’.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-244X-14-137 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Robert Young - Nina Sproeber - Rebecca C Groschwitz - Marthe Preiss - Paul L Plener

Source: https://link.springer.com/







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