Selfies are fun but when it involves risky behavior like standing on slippery rocks, hanging over high edges etc, it can be deadly.
Some 259 people worldwide have died while taking selfies, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. Researchers from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a group of public medical colleges in New Delhi, scoured news reports on selfie deaths that occurred from October 2011 to November 2017.
They found that the most selfie deaths occurred in India, followed by Russia, the US, and Pakistan. Most of the victims were men (about 72%) and under the age of 30.
India accounted for more than half the total — 159 reported selfie deaths since 2011. Researchers attributed the high number to the country’s enormous population of people under 30, which is the world’s largest.
Although women generally take more selfies than men, researchers found that men were more likely to take risks — like standing at the edge of a cliff — to capture a dramatic shot. ‘It justifies the higher number of deaths and incidents for men,’ the study said.
Drowning is the leading cause of selfie deaths, usually involving people being washed away by waves on beaches or falling out of a boat.
The second-leading cause is listed as ‘transport’ — people killed, for example, while trying to snap a quick pic in front of a moving train.
Fires and fall from high places take the third. Eight people died while taking selfies with dangerous animals.
Unsurprisingly, the US led in the number of selfie deaths involving a firearm — people accidentally shooting themselves while posing with guns.
The study says the problem is almost certainly underreported. For example, it notes that when a person decides to pose for a selfie while driving and is then killed in a car crash, it’s most often reported as just a fatal traffic wreck. And there are several developing countries where reports of selfie deaths may not make it into the local news.
Selfie deaths are on the rise, too. There were just three reported selfie deaths in 2011. By 2016 that number had shot up to 98.
‘The youth and tourists are frequently affected because of the desire of ‘being cool,’ posting photos on social (media) and getting rewards in forms of likes and comments,’ the study says. ‘Selfies are themselves not harmful, but the human behavior that accompanies selfies is dangerous. Individuals need to be educated regarding certain risky behaviors and risky places where selfies should not be taken.’
Introductions of ideas like ‘No selfie Zones’, and education on risky behavior to avoid have been engaged to address the concerns.
After an increasing occurrence of selfie-related deaths, the Russian Government put out a brochure.
The two-page guide contains infographics that resemble road signs, most of which are based on actual incidents — such as the case of a 21-year-old woman who accidentally shot herself in the head and a teen who was struck by a train after trying to take a photograph of herself on railway tracks.
The brochure also warns against are taking selfies with animals, on rooftops, and with exposed live wires.