Russian police launch 'safe selfie' guide after spate of deaths while taking selfies

Women pose for a selfie in front of the historical Place of Execution in Moscow, on April 30, 2015.
Women pose for a selfie in front of the historical Place of Execution in Moscow, on April 30, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian police on Tuesday launched a campaign urging people to take safer selfies after around 100 were injured and dozens died this year in gruesome accidents while striking high-risk poses.

"A cool selfie could cost you your life," the Interior Ministry warned in a new leaflet packed with tips such as "a selfie with a weapon kills".

That warning comes after a 21-year-old woman in Moscow accidentally shot herself in the head in May while taking a selfie while holding a pistol. She suffered head injuries but survived.

That was just one in a string of recent selfie-related accidents.

In January, two young men blew themselves up in the Urals while taking a selfie holding a hand grenade with the pin pulled out. The cellphone with the selfie survived as a record.

In May, a teenager in the Ryazan region died while attempting to take a selfie as he climbed on a railway bridge and accidentally came into contact with live wires.

"Unfortunately we have noted recently that the number of accidents caused by lovers of self-photography is constantly increasing," said Ms Yelena Alexeyeva, an aide to the interior minister.

"Since the beginning of the year we are talking about some hundred cases of injuries for sure."

Selfies have also led to "dozens of deadly accidents", she added.

"The problem really exists and leads to very unfortunate consequences."

Hence the new campaign, which includes the leaflets, a video and online advice on the ministry's website.

The campaign uses warning signs in the style of road signs to drive its message home, although its basic graphics appear unlikely to appeal to teenagers.

A figure holding a selfie sticks wanders on a rail line in one image. "A selfie on the railway tracks is a bad idea if you value your life," the leaflet says.

In another of the warning signs, which can be viewed at https://mvd.ru/safety-selfie, a figure clambers on an electricity pylon while taking a selfie.

The ministry has also created a public safety video, set to a driving beat.

It includes spectacular images shot by Russia's youth subculture of "roofers" - who illicitly sneak into high-rise buildings and snap themselves on the top, their photos often going viral on social networking sites.

"Before taking a selfie, everyone should think about the fact that racing after a high number of 'likes' could lead him on a journey to death and his last extreme photo could turn out to be posthumous," Ms Alexeyeva warned.