Dangers of the Selfies Gene
A “cool” selfie can cost you your life

The prevalence of smartphones has ushered in the era of taking selfies. In the beginning, they were taken using the front camera of a smartphone. Now, people not only use a digital camera to click selfies but also incorporate the use of a “selfie-stick” – a long attachment that increases the field of view. While taking selfies is generally considered harmless, some people go to great lengths to capture that one-of-a-kind selfie. While a successful one can garner considerable “likes” on social media websites, they are dangerous to the point of consuming the life of the person as well.

According to a study published in Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 259 people have died while taking selfies from October 2011 to November 2017. The study was conducted by researchers hailing from the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in capital New Delhi. With 159 deaths, India leads the charge of more selfie-related deaths than anywhere else in the world. While Russia comes in second, the United States and Pakistan follow thereafter.

The study also states that while women are predisposed to take more selfies than men, it’s the latter that embarks to take risky selfies in dangerous locations. Around 72% of the victims were men below the age of 30, which explains why India leads the chart in selfie-related deaths as it has the world’s largest population of people under the age of 30.

The study also provides the cause of such selfie deaths. With 70 deaths occurring from 32 incidences, getting drowned leads the pack. The incidences include capsizing of boats and getting washed away by waves, all in the process of taking that ‘epic’ selfie. The second in the list is getting killed in or by a transport vehicle, with 28 incidences spawning 51 deaths. Majority of people who fall into this category have gotten killed while trying to snap a selfie in front of a moving train.

Falling down from elevated locations have spurned in the maximum number of incidences, 41, although resulting in 48 deaths as the incidences are usually solo in nature. Getting burnt in fire is also a prominent cause or death, as is taking selfies with dangerous animals. The United States leads in the number of selfie deaths involving a firearm, with people accidentally shooting themselves while posing with guns.

While there were only 3 selfie-related deaths in 2011, the number has escalated to 98 in 2016. The rise in such deaths has prompted the establishment of “no selfie zones” in tourist areas, especially on mountain peaks, near bodies of water and on top of tall buildings. In India, the Mumbai police have pinpointed the city’s oceanfront as a high-risk location, and have set up signs to “restrain” people from taking risky selfies in the area. The Russian police, after a spate of selfie-related fatalities in 2015, has put out a brochure that says, “A cool selfie can cost you your life.”

At the end of the day, it’s the desire to appear cool on social media sites that propel us to take risky selfies. The study has gone on to mention, “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.”