In people are really stupid news, an India based study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Family Care reports that 259 selfie-related deaths have occurred between 2011 and 2017. Honestly, the number seems low based on the ridiculous stunts people try to pair with the perfect filter. I realize I shouldn’t judge or roll my eyes at death by selfie, but when you stand in front of a moving train to try to get a dope shot, odds are high that you are going to get run over. I know that dude had loved ones, but where has our common sense gone?
It has been replaced by the need for social media affirmation. Facebooks likes, Instagram hearts, and Twitter retweets are motivation for young people in particular to try to get an eye-catching photo for their feeds. Yet people’s bright ideas for getting the best selfie are leading to death by drowning, falling, electrocution, and animal attacks. Indian man, Prabhu Bhatara, spotted an injured bear by the side of the road after pulling over to pee on his way home from a wedding. As he snapped the picture, the bear caught a second wind and mauled him to death. Apparently friends warned Bhatara to not approach the bear, but he didn’t listen. And instead of helping him, they captured the scene with their phones. Yeah. Death by selfie. Sigh.
The majority of the deaths reported in the study involved males. 106 people between the ages of 20-29 died. The next highest death total was found in people ages 10-19 (76). Young males doing dumb shit: shocker. And their deaths have been reported in 23 different countries. Most of the selfie-related deaths occurred in India with 159 reported incidents. Russia had 16 reports and the United States had 14.
While not included in the study, a 16-year-old girl’s selfie-related death in May of 2018 is being used to raise awareness for seatbelt safety. Kailee Mills was riding in a car with friends when she unbuckled her seatbelt to slide over to her friend in the backseat to snap a selfie on the way to a party. At the same time, the car slid off of the road and rolled over. Mills was ejected from the car and died instantly. She was the only one not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
Agam Bansal, the lead author of the selfie study, suggested that “no selfie zones” could be enforced near bodies of water, at the top of tall buildings, and at the edge of mountains. I have a feeling that if we have to put up a sign telling people to not stand of the edge of a 200-foot cliff and mug for the camera, like a hiker did at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, then we have already lost our way. Along with lost lives.
Yet Russia tried a “Safe Selfie” campaign letting people know that selfies with firearms and power poles were “bad selfie ideas.” Mumbai declared 16 spots in the city “no selfie zones” after a number of selfie-related deaths, and an Indonesian national park is working to create safe selfie zones after a hiker died while taking a selfie.
I really don’t think signs are the answer. People take selfies—dangerous and outrageous selfies—for other people. They are looking to achieve some level of fame, social media followers, or the admiration of friends. No amount of signage will squash that kind of narcissism.
Bansal adds: “If you’re just standing, simply taking it with a celebrity or something, that’s not harmful. But if that selfie is accompanied with risky behavior then that’s what makes the selfies dangerous.”
No shit, Sherlock.