Facepalm: Two Russian soldiers took a selfie with a live grenade when it went off in their faces. One of them surprisingly survived. An 18-year-old girl in Romania was seeking the “ultimate selfie” for Facebook while lying on the top of a stationary train. While posing, her leg struck a 27,000-volt live wire. She immediately burst into flames and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Those are only two of 11 stories relayed by Rolling Stone magazine, but there are a lot more than 11 incidents like this. It has colloquially been dubbed “death by selfie” — people snapping photographs of themselves in dangerous situations just before they die.
Death-by-selfie incidents are on the rise. A recent study conducted by researchers in India and published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that there have been 259 deaths connected with 137 selfie-related incidents. This count does not include cellphone-related incidents such as texting while driving. It also did not include reports from non-English sources; so the global total could be much higher.
Most of the incidents have occurred in India, but death by selfie seems to know no boundaries. Deaths have been reported in at least 23 different countries. Russia has seen 16 related incidents, and the US has had 14 reports, but India seems to have a real problem with this behavior, having seen at least 159 selfie-related deaths.
Causes of death varied widely. Drowning was the most common occurrence with 32 incidents resulting in 70 deaths. Falls were the second leading cause with 48 deaths in 41 events. Other causes include animal, electrocution, firearm, and transport.
The incidents, which all occurred between October 2011 and November 2017, mostly involved male subjects. Only about 28 percent of the selfie-related deaths were women. Most of the deaths (106) were in the 20-29 age bracket with ages 10-19 coming in second at 76 incidents. Those over 40 only saw a total of 9 deaths by selfie, showing that with age comes wisdom.
The study concludes suggesting “‘No selfie zones’ areas [sic] should be declared across tourist areas especially places such as water bodies, mountain peaks, and over tall buildings to decrease the incidence of selfie-related deaths.”
The alternative would be to let natural selection run its course.