Self portraits are nothing new and have been around from the time the first cameras were invented, but the word ‘selfie’ became popular thanks to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, and the invention of front-facing cameras on mobile phones. The word has gotten a lot of flack over the past few years, but has become part of history, making its way into dictionaries across the world.
Zachary Crockett of Priceonomics has put together a compilation of selfie-related deaths pulled from 3 years of news stories from Google News and Wikipedia, unveiling a number of interesting statistics about selfie-related deaths. In total, he found 49 cases and categorized them.
The first table looks at deaths by age ranging from as low as 14 to 32 years old. While most were scattered across the range, the highest concentration centered around ages 20-21 with a combined total of 17. Note that this chart is missing 4 entries as the researcher was unable to determine the age of those four related fatalities. No surprises here as most people between the ages of 18-24 tend to be very camera happy.
Breaking it down by gender, it seems males are more likely to end up in a deadly pickle, maybe because of their higher likelihood of taking risks to get those 100+ ‘like’ photos, like hanging off the side of skyscrapers, holding guns to their faces or taking selfies during vehicular crashes.
Now let’s get into the stupid things which these ‘photographers’ died from. A very high proportion died from falls from heights and drowning. Next time you go for a swim, consider worrying about holding your breath instead of getting that winning photo. In reality, some drownings occurred as a result of unfortunate circumstances such as a group of sever students falling into a lake after their boat tipped over during a photo op.
Train selfies also seemed like an interesting category. After doing some of my own digging, I found out that most of them died due to electrocution after they accidentally touched live high-voltage wires connected to the trains themselves. There was once instance where a boy stood on a track trying to take a selfie, and was knocked down by a moving train. Ummm…
India ranks as having the most selfie related deaths over the past three years, and has 16 no-selfie zones (mainly in areas with masses of water) with large signs and life guards preventing selfie-lovers from taking those risky shots. India and Russia now have marketing campaigns geared towards those taking selfies, educating them on what should and should not be done, in an attempt to reduce the high number of deaths, because common sense wasn’t enough.
All in all, selfies have killed 28 people (in 2015) compared to just 8 that died from shark attacks. Even skateboarding and climbing Mt. Everest appears to be safer, but I guess in those circumstances, they actually try to prevent themselves from being hurt unlike selfie-ers who put themselves in a lot of danger just for that single shot.
Let’s face it. Putting yourself in dangerous situations just for a photo moment just isn’t worth it. I think I’d have my life over a selfie any day.
If you’re interested in reading up about some of the documented deaths, there is a Wiki page for that.