Over the past decade, taking selfies has become almost pervasive. At national monuments, geographic wonders, or even your local Burger King, it has become commonplace to see people taking hundreds of photos of themselves on their phones or tablets.
However, according to researchers, these innocent acts are becoming a problem with a rise in “selfie deaths”. A study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care calls for “No Selfie Zones” in possibly dangerous areas like volcanoes, tall skyscrapers, and vast water bodies. It theorizes that a cultural emphasis on self-photography has led folks to take selfies in areas and situations where it may be fatal.
According to the study, 259 people around the world have died in selfie-related incidents between 2011 and 2017. The average age was 23 and the 72% of the selfie-death toll was male. In 2018 thus far, there have been many selfie-related deaths as well.
Most selfie deaths occurred in relation to falls, moving vehicles, drowning, or fires. Drowning was the most common cause of these deaths, when someone would attempt to take a selfie as the boat they were in capsized. For example, earlier this year a hiker tried to take a selfie and fell to his death into a 250 ft. hole.
The majority of these selfie-deaths have been recorded in India, Russia, Pakistan, and the United States. Most selfie-deaths in the US have involved the use of firearms.
The study was based primarily on English-language news reports, situating the 259 selfie-deaths in only certain areas. According to the researchers, the figure will likely go up if other languages’ publications were examined.
“I would say people need to be educated and made aware of selfie deaths as a public health problem”, said Agam Basal, one of the lead researchers.