Dying for your art

teenagers taking selfie

Do we need ‘selfie-free zones’ to prevent an epidemic of camera-induced deaths and injuries?

Over 250 people worldwide died in selfie-related incidents over a six-year period, say researchers who are calling for governments to implement policies to warn and prevent people accessing at-risk areas.

From October 2011 to November 2017, there were 259 deaths while clicking selfies in 137 separate incidents, said researchers who collated data reported in English language sources from around the globe.

The mean age of those killed in the incidents was 22.94 years.

“Overall, the total number of casualties and incidents is high for 10–19 and 20–29 age group, highest for latter, then it decreases as the age range goes up,” said the study’s Indian authors.

Men are at much greater risk, accounting for 72.5% of the total deaths. This is despite a number of studies showing that women generally took more selfies than men.

Drowning (70 deaths, in 32 incidents), transport (51 deaths in 28 incidents), and falling (48 deaths in 41 incidents) were the most common reasons for deaths caused by selfies. There were also 16 deaths from electrocution, 8 due to animals and 11 from firearms. Most of the latter group occurred in the US.

Deaths relating to mobile phone use but not to camera usage were not considered.

The highest number of incidents and selfie-deaths has been reported in India, followed by Russia, the United States, and Pakistan.

Interestingly, the ratio of deaths to incidents is almost double in India, whereas in other countries incidents approximate the number of deaths, a fact the authors attributed to the “trend of group selfies being more prevalent in India as compared to other countries”.

The authors said the increasing prevalence of such incidents meant consideration should be given to “No selfie zones” being declared across tourist areas especially places such as water bodies, mountain peaks, and over tall buildings.

“Although our study has enlisted the largest number of selfie deaths and incidents till date, this is just the tip of iceberg,” they said.

“Many cases are not reported. The limitation of our study was that we included news reports only in English language. Therefore, news reports in local language have been missed”.

“Selfies are themselves not harmful, but the human behavior that accompanies selfies is dangerous,” they concluded.

“Individuals need to be educated regarding certain risky behaviors and risky places where selfies should not be taken”.

The research was published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

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