More than 250 people worldwide have died while taking selfies in the last six years, according to a new study from researchers associated with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a group of public medical colleges based in New Delhi.
The findings, which analyzed news reports of the 259 selfie-related deaths from October 2011 to November 2017, were published in the July-August edition of the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.
Of the 259 deaths, researchers found the leading cause to be drowning, followed by incidents involving transportation — for example, taking a selfie in front of an oncoming train — and falling from heights. Other causes of selfie-related deaths include animals, firearms and electrocution.
“The selfie deaths have become a major public health problem,” Agam Bansal, the study’s lead author.
Though the study found India to have the highest number of deaths of all countries, multiple reports of fatal selfie incidents have also come from Russia, the United States and Pakistan. Bansal noted that while the simple act of taking a selfie isn’t deadly, hazards arise when people take risks while trying to get that perfect shot.
Bansal added he was also concerned about how many of the selfie-related fatalities involved young people. More than 85 percent of the victims were between the ages of 10 and 30, Bansal said.
“What worries me the most is that it is a preventable cause of death,” he said.
“Taking a toll on these many numbers just because you want a perfect selfie because you want a lot of likes, shares on Facebook, Twitter or other social media, I don’t think this is worth compromising a life for such a thing.”
While the number of deaths reported in the study may seem high, Bansal said there could be many more cases that just haven’t been documented because of issues with reporting.
“If you’re just standing, simply taking it with a celebrity or something, that’s not harmful,” he said. “But if that selfie is accompanied with risky behavior then that’s what makes the selfies dangerous.”
In 2018 alone, there have already been several selfie-related deaths. In May, a man in India tried to take a selfie with an injured bear and was mauled to death, the Independent reported.
Just last month, two people died in the United States in separate cases also involving selfies.