New York: Call it an irony but teenage girls with four or more tattoos may show off a higher self-esteem to their friends and relatives but they are also at a high suicide risk, claim researchers.
The team from Texas Tech University found that college-going women with multiple tattoos report higher levels of self-esteem and the same multi-tattooed women also report a much higher frequency of past suicide attempts.
Some interesting emotional correlations emerged among college-age respondents with four or more tattoos, they noted.
Women with four or more tattoos were the group that showed the team the only two interesting connections.
"They had a much higher suicide attempt history and paradoxically, it was this same group that showed an increased level of self-esteem," said lead study author Jerome Koch from Texas Tech University.
In his earlier research, Koch and his team found that four or more tattoos, seven or more body piercings or piercings in private body parts were significantly more likely to report regular marijuana use, occasional use of other illegal drugs and a history of being arrested for a crime.
"We know women sometimes replace a surgically removed breast with elegant body art. We wonder if more tattoos might be a way of reclaiming a sense of self in the wake of an emotional loss -- evidenced by a suicide attempt," Koch stated.
"But I think the logic holds when linking suicide survivors and breast cancer survivors who might use tattoos when reclaiming an emotional or physical loss," Koch concluded.
The study is forthcoming in the Social Science Journal.