Death By Selfie

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The best photos happen only when you take risks to get them, advises American photographer Ken Rockwell. But how much risk do selfies warrant?

The selfie has become a mainstay in social media culture, mentioned in nearly 400,000 Facebook posts and 150,000 tweets a week. But it seems that selfies may have deadly consequences.

Researchers last month went through three years of news archives, searching for any instances of selfie-related deaths. The study, conducted by the economics site Priceonomics, found that at least 49 people have died while taking selfies in the last three years.

Polls show that selfies make up 30 percent of the photos taken by 18- to 24-year-olds. And it s surely no coincidence that the average selfie victim is 21 years old, according to the Priceonomics study.

The study also found that nearly three-fourths of selfie victims were male. This may come as a surprise, as women take significantly more selfies than men. But other studies have found that men are twice as likely to take recreational risks such as in selfie-taking - than women.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that men who commonly post selfies also display more narcissistic and psychopathic traits than women on personality tests.

For example, in October 2015 a 17-year-old Russian student decided to hang off the ledge of a nine-story building. He wanted to achieve the ultimate Instagram selfie. But his hand slipped and he fell to his death.

It s all about me. It s putting me in the frame, lead researcher Jesse Fox told Reuters, explaining these people s mindset. I m getting attention and when I post that to social media, I m getting the confirmation that I need from other people that I m awesome.

As it turns out, the majority of selfie deaths (16) reported in the last three years came from high falls, followed closely by drowning (14). Some of these falls were due more to carelessness than ego. In late August 2015, for example, a 25-year-old Chinese man, distracted by his phone s camera during a selfie, fell a hundred feet and died.

Forty percent of the selfie-related deaths occurred in India. But this can t be due solely to India s large population, as the similarly populated China only had 1 reported self-related death. India s high incidence of drowning may instead explain this.

For example, in March 2015, seven young Indian boys drowned in a lake when they stood up for a selfie, causing their boat to flip over. Another four drowned after slipping off a canal s banks during a selfie shot.

Countries with high numbers of selfie-related deaths have taken preventative measures. Indian government officials have instated 16 no selfie zones around the country.

And Russia, ranking second behind India with seven selfie deaths, last summer began a wide marketing campaign. One rather obvious warning on the campaign s website reads, When taking a selfie, be sure that you are in a safe place your life is not in danger!