Yesterday a 16-year-old boy was fatally struck by a train while attempting to take a selfie in India. Selfies are normally associated with narcissism and ‘duckfaces’, but a growing trend of deadly selfies has exposed a darker side to these pictures.
In 2015, dozens of people died while attempting to take selfies, while only eight people died from shark attacks. Twitter declared 2014 to be the “Year of the Selfie,” but it was really year zero of a trend that won’t stop.
Even the President of the United States has dabbled in the selfie-stick.
Recent media sites have compared selfie-related deaths to shark attacks and found that in 2015, selfies overwhelmingly killed more people in than sharks. Selfie-related accidents are part of a growing trend. In recent years, selfie-related deaths have been caused by crashing cars, falling off cliffs, accidental gunshots, and drowning.
The alarming trend has prompted amusement parks, music venues, and monuments around the world the world to ban the use of selfie sticks. According to the New York Times, selfie sticks have joined the ranks of items banned from Disneyland due to safety concerns along with cremated remains, xylophones, and lawn chairs.
Selfie sticks have also been banned at the Coachella music festival and Comic-Con, and at monuments like the Roman Colosseum, the Palace of Versailles, and the Sydney Opera House. Yellowstone National Park issued selfie warnings to visitors after five separate people were gored by bison that joined the selfies.
Dozens of selfie-related injuries and deaths in Russia led the Russian government to launch a public service campaign about the dangers of selfies. New York State passed a proactive bill in 2014 prohibiting people from having a photo taken while “hugging, patting, or otherwise touching tigers.”
In September, a 19-year-old accidentally killed himself while trying to take a selfie with a loaded gun held to his head. Earlier last year, a man in San Diego has hospitalized after attempting a selfie with a rattlesnake, and a 21-year-old died after falling into the crater of an active volcano while taking a selfie.
What motivates selfie-takers to enter dangerous situations for the sake of a picture?
Studies have found that people who post the most selfies score higher than others for the dark triad of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. These are traits that might also lead selfie-takers on dangerous missions to capture extreme selfies.
Selfie-takers beware: don’t take selfies while driving, on train tracks, near dangerous animals, on cliffs, stairs, or any kind of slope that can elicit a serious fall, or with dangerous weapons.
In the words of the Russian Interior Ministry, “a ‘cool’ selfie could cost you your life.”