‘Selfie deaths’ bring renewed attention to prevention

By AT editor - 9 October 2019 at 3:34 am
‘Selfie deaths’ bring renewed attention to prevention

Four more deaths in India have been linked to selfie-taking after members from the same family fell while taking the photo at a dam in Tamil Nadu on Sunday. Those deaths have renewed attention to the global “selfie death” problem and African nations are by no means immune.

A study of such deaths published last year found India with nearly half of the 259 confirmed cases across six years, but they also were reported in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. A 2016 study on the same issue placed South Africa in the Top 10 nations for selfie fatalities.

“Selfie-related death was defined as any accidental death that occurs while doing self-photography or clicking selfies,” said the authors led by Agam Bensal. Their work appeared in India’s Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care. The more mobile phones there are, the more deaths, with what the paper describes as an “exponential increase” in recent years.

The top causes of selfie death are falls, with drowning third, which appeared to be at work in this latest Tamil Nadu incident. It left just two survivors: a bereaved newlywed husband and his younger sister.

The second most-common reason is transport, the researchers found.

“The most common drowning incidents include washed away by waves on beach, capsizing of boats while rowing, clicking selfies on shore while not knowing how to swim, or ignoring warnings,” the study said. “Similarly, for transport, it is majorly the accidents due to clicking in front of a running train.”

The authors note that a significant number of such deaths go unreported in developing nations, so it’s quite likely that many countries – particularly on the African continent – may have more selfie deaths, with young people and tourists most at risk.

“Individuals need to be educated regarding certain risky behaviors and risky places where selfies should not be taken,” the authors conclude. They recommend “no selfie” areas in tourist zones, especially places with water bodies or mountain peaks, and at sites with tall buildings.

Image: South African Dept. of Tourism

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