Selfies 5 times deadlier than shark attacks, says report

While women take the most selfies, young men, who are more prone to take risks, make up three-quarters of the selfie deaths - in drownings, crashes, falls or shooting accidents, according to the report.
While women take the most selfies, young men, who are more prone to take risks, make up three-quarters of the selfie deaths - in drownings, crashes, falls or shooting accidents, according to the report.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

At least 259 picture-taking deaths from 2011 to 2017; falls among common causes

RIO DE JANEIRO • Selfies, which have become a global sensation in the past decade or so, have remarkably killed five times more people than shark attacks.

And the death toll has crept up incrementally each year as smartphones become more sophisticated and selfie sticks increase the range at which people can snap themselves, prompting them to take bigger risks for the perfect shot.

Between October 2011 and November 2017, at least 259 people died taking selfies around the world, according to India's Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, compared with just 50 people killed by sharks in the same period.

While women take the most selfies, young men, who are more prone to taking risks, make up three-quarters of the selfie deaths - in drownings, crashes, falls or shooting accidents.

India, with a population of more than 1.3 billion and 800 million mobile phones, holds the record for the number of people dying in the act of photographing themselves, with 159 recorded so far.

That is more than half of the global total - and a testament of sorts to the nation's love of group photos and its youthful population.

The country came in far ahead of Russia (16 deaths) and the United States (14).

  • Photo-taking taken to extremes

  • • 2017: In Brazil, several young people create a buzz on Facebook by posting smiling selfies taken among terrified bus passengers who throw themselves to the floor during a shooting.

    • May 2018: Taxi driver Prabhu Bhatara from India's Odisha district is mauled to death by a bear after he reportedly tries to take a selfie with the animal.

    • July 2018: Mr Gavin Zimmerman, 19, falls to his death while taking selfies on a cliff at a whale-watching spot in New South Wales, Australia.

    • September 2018: Israeli teen Tonmer Frankfurter slips and falls 250m to his death in California's Yosemite National Park while trying to take a selfie.

In Russia, people have fallen from bridges and high-rise buildings, shot themselves or even died while handling a land mine. Police issued a guide to "selfies without danger" in 2015.

In the US, most of those involved in selfie deaths fatally shot themselves while seeking the perfect pose. A number of people have fallen to their deaths at the Grand Canyon.

Rescue services in Croatia used Twitter to ask tourists to "stop taking stupid and dangerous selfies" after a Canadian miraculously survived a 75m fall in the Plitvice lakes region.

Even when they are not fatal, selfies can be extremely macabre.

Selfies in places deemed sacred or hallowed - especially when they honour the dead - can also raise questions. At the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Poland, visited by 2.1 million people every year, museum staff do not hesitate to contact people who post selfies deemed to be inappropriate.

From Brazil to Vietnam and Germany, witnesses to traffic accidents have posted selfies at the scene of the crash - generally seen as gauche.

More and more, selfies, even in tourist havens, are becoming a bit of a nuisance for locals. Residents of the picturesque Rue Cremieux in Paris were so disturbed by the constant stream of selfie-snapping tourists outside their windows that they started their own Instagram account, clubcremieux, where they publish pictures of the most absurd poses outside their doors, skewering them with barbed captions.

The same thing happened in Hong Kong, where residents of the vast multi-coloured Quarry Bay apartment complex put up signs banning photos.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Selfies 5 times deadlier than shark attacks, says report'. Print Edition | Subscribe