Everyone in 2018 has taken photographs, or more specifically, selfies at some point in their lives. In fact, there’s a community of individuals who even go to great lengths to complain about those who do just that. But, what happens when snapping a quick selfie (or 10) crosses the line from something many of us do daily to flat-out dangerous?
According to a brand new study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the Idraprastha Institute of Information Technology, India (along with many other countries) have an incredibly high rate of selfie-related deaths. While individual stories of selfie deaths aren’t exactly anything fresh and new, a new full collection of all the reported selfie-related deaths has now been published and has officially given us more insight into this depressing world-wide phenomenon as a whole.
The researchers first collected their data using a list of credible news sources found through an extensive web searching mechanism that ended up finding that 127 selfie deaths resulting from 85 incidents have occurred worldwide since March 2014. In some cases, some circumstances even involved multiple deaths at once. Among the deaths, it seemed apparent that height-related selfie deaths were the most common among the list, closely followed by both water-related and a combination height and water-related deaths. A number that is likely pin-pointed by the amount of thrill-seeking individuals who enjoy documenting their adventures – and unfortunately not always in a safe way.
While numbers are rising in many countries, the vast majority of selfie-related deaths have been recorded in India, with a total body count of 76. In Mumbai, the number of reports of these occurrences have even led police to sanction 16 “selfie-free zones” in order to provide safety in certain attractions.
“In the future we should figure out what it is about Indian culture, or Indian use of social media that is prompting such behaviour,” said one of the researchers, Henmak Lamba, a computer science PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of those killed while taking a selfie were millennials. Almost 80 percent of those killed whose ages were included within the report were under the age of 25.
Additionally, when classifying the what could potentially be at the heart of the cause for the dangerous which deathly selfies to be taken, the researchers of the study also took the time to look at selfies on social media. Researchers found that a substantial amount of Twitter users have posted with hashtags like #dangerousselfie, #extremeselfie, #letmetakeaselfie, #selfieoftheday and #drivingselfie to their social hubs. According to the researchers, findings revealed that the most common type of dangerous selfie — identified through text, image, and location-based features such as elevation in which Twitter users shared, was vehicle-related.
“We have to approach this problem really carefully, largely because we don’t want to give a danger score to each selfie because teenagers taking selfies are using it to say, “Look I took a selfie more dangerous than the one you took,'” Lamba explained. “So having a score-based system might not be an option.”
While more research is needed to understand the underlying factors of this problem, coastal tourist destinations, the massive size of the population, and the fast-growing cell phone market within the country may be contributing factors. A reasonable concern though, seeing as the number of these deaths (while accidental) appear to have occurred when taking a dangerous selfie was part of the appeal, like in the sense of competition or impressing peers. Circumstances including the case of the Mexican man who accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for a selfie with his 45-caliber pistol, or the Denver pilot who crashed his plane while pausing to say cheese.
Thankfully, these are also easily avoidable if those participating in selfie-taking simply just use common sense and ensure they’re always in a safe position and environment before focusing on the screen of their device.