Say cheese—and watch out for that jagged cliff behind you.
A group of health researchers in India have tried to tally the death toll from selfie taking, counting 259 deaths worldwide from October 2011 to November 2017. In doing so, they also caught a blurry glimpse of the leading ways in which people perish during dicey photo ops.
For their snapshot of fatal photography, the researchers used the somewhat shaky method of simple Google searches, scanning the web for media reports on selfie-related deaths. The researchers—a group from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which is a collective of public medical colleges in the country—published their results recently in the obscure India-based
The resulting grim picture shows a developing public health threat, the researchers argue. Yet, the numbers are likely “just the tip of iceberg,” they add. Selfies are never recorded as an official cause of death, media reports don’t report every death, and the search was limited to English-language news reports.
Still, the researchers were able to catch a reasonable peek into the perilous photo trends. The 259 deaths resulted from 137 ill-fated photo clicks during the time period surveyed. The death rate seemed to increase over that time, with three and two death reports in 2011 and 2013, respectively, and nearly 100 each in 2016 and 2017.
Risk-taking men accounted for 72.5 percent of the fatalities with gender data. Of those with age data, the mean age was about 23 years old. The majority of deaths were of those aged 10 to 29.
India had the most deaths in the survey, with 159. That was followed by 16 in Russia, 14 in the US, and 11 in Pakistan. The rest were scattered in various countries.
The top way to go while snapping a self-portrait was drowning. This includes being washed away by waves on a beach, capsizing in a boat, and getting into picturesque water while not knowing how to swim. Transportation came next, with the biggest risk being clicking a pic in front of a moving train. Selfie deaths from falls and fires followed, along with animal mauling, electrocution, and firearms. Most of the fatalities involving pics with firearms occurred in the US.
Overall, the researchers blamed the deadly images on tourists and youths trying too hard to “be cool” and take pictures that will garner likes and comments on social media. To combat the trend, they recommend that officials in various countries declare “no selfie zones” in hazardous sightseeing areas, such as along bodies of water, mountain peaks, and the tops of tall buildings. They note that officials in Mumbai, Russia, and Indonesia are already taking steps to limit selfies in places with dangerous backdrops.