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Selfie deaths are a major public health problem: Study

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, October 15, 2018  /  07:26 am
Selfie deaths are a major public health problem: Study

Illustration of taking a selfie with a selfie stick. (Shutterstock/gmstockstudio)

You don’t have to browse for long on social media to find dramatic travel photos, including selfies of travelers and adrenaline junkies perched on the edge of a scenic cliff or some other type of risky backdrop.

These images never fail to rack up hundreds if not thousands of “likes” inspired by both the stunning view and the photographer’s death-defying feat.

However, few realize that these “daring” selfie stunts are also extremely dangerous. And sadly, attempts at them have actually been fatal.

According to a  Washington Post report, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), a group of public medical colleges based in New Delhi, has made startling findings on selfie-related deaths.

The group analyzed 259 reported selfie-related deaths from October 2011 to November 2017, concluding that “selfie deaths have become a major public health problem,” Agam Bansal, lead author of the AIIMS research team, told The Washington Post.

The report, published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, shows that the leading causes of death involving selfies were drowning, followed by transportation-related incidents. Though India is found to have the world’s highest number of selfie-related deaths, there have also been many reports coming from Russia, the United States and Pakistan.

These incidents may also lead to the deaths of other people and traumatize onlookers. Rolling Stone recently reported 11 disturbing stories of social media photos gone wrong, including one that involves a live grenade in the Urals region west of Siberia, and a deadly plane crash in Colorado, US. In the latter, the pilot lost control of the airplane while attempting to take a selfie, causing the plane to crash and claim his life along with his passenger’s.

Other selfie-related deaths include animals and electrocution.

“It’s like a man-made disaster,” Mohit Jain, an orthopedic surgeon who has done research on selfie-related deaths, said told The Washington Post. “It’s not a natural disaster.”

His research found 75 deaths caused by selfie attempts from 2014-2016. He emphasized that the work of AIIMS researchers was important in spreading awareness about the potential dangers of taking selfies in unusual situations.

Read also: Chinese tourist dies after falling from cliff taking a selfie

What’s more concerning, he said, was that more than 85 percent of victims in these incidents were between the ages of 10 and 30.

He urged people to ask themselves whether it was worth compromising their life for likes and shares on social media.

“If you’re just standing, simply taking [a selfie] with a celebrity or something, that’s not harmful,” Bansal said. “But if that selfie is accompanied with risky behavior, then that is what makes the selfie dangerous.” (acr/mut)