People Are Dying Trying to Snap Selfies

February 26th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

Taking a picture of yourself is apparently risky business: Since 2014, some 49 people have died in the pursuit of the perfect selfie, according to a grim, somewhat embarrassing collection of data by the economics website Priceconomics.

Even more depressing, that's almost certainly a low estimate considering the article was published in January.

Kicked in head selfie

In fact, on February 1, a teenager in India died (not pictured here) trying to snap a photo of himself in front of a speeding train. It's a trend that has spawned some tragic, bizarre headlines, to say the least, and has led to some supremely clickable comparisons, like the Mashable graph below:

Selfie vs Shark

Just how dangerous selfies in and of themselves are is anyone's guess. But the competitive drive to snap the Selfie Supréme that one-ups all of Instagram's more than 260 million posts tagged as such is apparently driving some to dangerous — and deadly — extremes. According to the Priceconomics roundup, a majority of those who die taking selfies are young men. Supplemental research also suggests that certain demographics are more prone to risk-taking to satisfy a certain narcissistic urge.

Kicked in head selfie

From Priceconomics:

"Though women take significantly more selfies than men, 36 of the 49 selfie-related fatality victims were male. Studies have proven that men are two times more likely to take recreational risks than women are, even when it comes to selfies. Researchers at Ohio State University found that men who frequently post selfies score significantly higher in the traits of “narcissism” and “psychopathy” in personality tests. As a result, when these men take a selfie, they brush off potential dangers in favor of validation and personal gain."

While selfie-related deaths are numerically negligible compared to things such as car accidents or drug overdoses, they have caused enough concern to garner formal warnings from governments. In India, where the most selfie-related deaths occur, officials in Mumbai declared in January a "no selfie zone" on the Marine Drive promenade and the Girgaum Chowpatty beach after an 18-year-old girl drowned snapping a photo of herself. It's one of 15 other places where Mumbai officials banned the practice, the BBC reported.

Kicked in head selfie

And in Russia over the summer, police launched a campaign warning would-be selfie snappers against enticing, but precarious photo ops. "When a person is trying to take a picture of themselves, they become distracted, lose their balance, they don't look around and don't feel in danger," the campaign's website reads. "When taking a selfie, be sure that you are in a safe place and your life is not in danger!"

Russian selfie poster

Most of the selfie deaths reported by Priceconomics are from relatively niche activities, especially for selfie-taking: falling from heights and drowning claim the most lives, followed by trains, gunshots, grenades, plane and car crashes, and animals.

Taking a picture of yourself dangling from a building is perhaps more a commentary on individual judgment than it is on the selfie. But even the cautious should still take care and account for factors out of their control, as video of this close call illustrates: