Are selfies 'deadlier' than sharks? Apparently so, says research.

  • 27 Jun 2019

The term selfie has become synonymous with everyone equipped with a smartphone nowadays. 

The sight of toddlers and teenagers and even senior citizens, snapping their self portraits on their mobile phones are common, everywhere we go.

However, this seemingly innocent act of vanity has killed over five times more people than sharks, around the world, between Oct 2011 and November 2017, a study by India's Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care has shown. 

Some 259 people died taking selfies, compared to just 50 people killed by sharks in the same period. 

According to the study, although women take the most selfies, men make up three quarters of the fatality, due to their risk taking behaviour. The deaths include by drowning, electrocution, falling from high places, and accidents. 

Indians have the dubious honour of making the highest number of death by selfie - with 159 fatalities out of the total 259. Russia, the United States, and Pakistan follow suit, with 16, 14, and 11 deaths respectively.

Age-wise, more than half (106) of the total deaths involved those aged between 20 and 29, followed by teenagers in the 10 to 19 age group (36%). 

There have been cases of Indian youth dying or getting seriously injured while snapping selfies in front of moving trains and on top of cliffs. 

As for Russia, people have fallen while taking selfies from bridges and high rise buildings, or died after shooting themselves of handling a land mine. 

In the United States, most of the fatalities include people accidentally shooting themlselves while selfie-ing, while there are also those who have fallen down the Grand Canyon.

Despite the numbers, there could be more unrecorded cases of selfie deaths, the report said. 

The increased usage of phones with sophisticated features have led to increased number of such deaths, it added. 

For example, youth and tourists are driven to go the extra length to snap selfies, in their desire to be seen as "cool", and getting likes, shares and comments on their social media accounts. 

One such case involves 36-year-old Taiwanese hiker and social media personality Gigi Wu, also known as the "Bikini Hiker", who fell down a ravine while trekking in Yushan national park in Taiwan, in January this year.

She managed to call for help via a satellite phone, but froze to death before help could arrive.

Wu earned the moniker because she used to change into a bikini at the top of a mountain she conquers and take a selfie, but is otherwise, a skilled and experienced hiker. 

Last December, an Indian expatriate couple living in the United States died after falling 800 metres at the Yosemite National Park in California. They ran a popular travel blog and Instagram account which documented their travel around the world. 

In the incident, investigators say the woman fell down the cliff while posing for a photograph, while her husband also fell while trying to rescue her. 

In 2017, daredevil Chinese climber Wu Yongning fell 62 storeys to his death while scaling the Huayuan Centre in Hunan, China. 

These are just some of the reported cases, and one can be rest assured, won't be the last, as long as people's penchant for thrill-seeking and thirst for social media acknowledgement, are around. 

The next time you feel like taking a little risk while posing for a selfie, just remember that no amount of social media likes or shares, can bring back a lost limb, or worse, life. 

Photo source: Astro Awani

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