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How Facebook and Instagram selfies could be the death of you

Selfie deaths are on the rise worldwide, as Katie Wright has discovered

Published 26/11/2016

Height of danger: the craze for ever more spectacular photo opportunities has seen selfie enthusiasts putting themselves at increasingly greater risks
Height of danger: the craze for ever more spectacular photo opportunities has seen selfie enthusiasts putting themselves at increasingly greater risks

If 2014 was "the year of the selfie"; 2016, tragically, will be known as "the year of the selfie death". Researchers in the US report that 73 people died as a result of self-taken photographs in the first eight months of 2016 - an increase compared to 39 in the whole of 2015 and 15 in 2014.

The first reported case came from Spain in March 2014, when a 21-year-old man was electrocuted after climbing on top of a train carriage and touching a live wire, while, in October, a 12-year-old Russian girl fell to her death after taking a selfie on the balcony railing of her 17th floor apartment.

Trains are a common cause of accidents in India, which earns the dubious title of the "selfie death capital of the world".

Of the 127 total fatalities reported worldwide, nearly 60% have occurred in the country, many on, or near, railway lines.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh say it's because train tracks are seen as romantic, or a symbol of eternal friendship. It's such a problem that, in Mumbai, selfies are outlawed in 16 zones across the city, with transgressors facing a 1,200 rupee fine (around £12.50).

Most ban zones are along the coast, introduced after a woman drowned when she fell into the sea taking a selfie at the Bandstand Fort, a popular visitor site.

In Russia, the government launched an advice campaign following a series of alarming incidents that went far beyond a few accidental slips and trips. Two men perished posing for a snap while pulling the pin out of a hand grenade in the Ural Mountains and a woman in Moscow shot herself - with a gun, not a camera - in the head, but managed to survive.

The warning posters suggest selfies involving rooftops, pylons, moving boats, loaded weapons and wild animals are not advisable, which may seem obvious.

But the hunger for Facebook likes and Instagram followers is evidently enough to make some people abandon common sense.

It's likely going to take more bans and public warnings before the fatality figures start to dip.

Belfast Telegraph

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