What Can Be Done About The Worrying Rise Of 'Selfie Deaths'?

Photo: Rockie Nolan
Long gone are the days when a picturesque sunset or pretty bowl of porridge could guarantee you a bunch of Instagram likes.

These days, everyone is the Creative Director of their own personal brand – and the calibre of our social media posts has stepped up a notch. Consequently, we must go to more extreme lengths to get attention and set ourselves apart on social media.

This mostly likely explains the rise of the "extreme selfie" phenomenon, defined as a "high adrenaline sport" that involves photographing yourself "in the most extreme environments you can find", according to the oracle of youth that is Urban Dictionary.

As you might imagine, taking an extreme selfie is the opposite of safe, and people all over the world have died in dangerous situations.

Since 2014, when the first selfie-related death was recorded, there have been 127 deaths by selfie, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

The team behind this research now wants to create an app to tackle the problem by warning selfie-takers when they're at risk, reported BBC Newsbeat.

In the first eight months of this year, 73 people died while taking a selfie, up from 39 in 2015 and 15 in 2014, PhD student Hemank Lamba and his colleagues found. Some countries saw more selfie-related deaths than others and the specific cause of death varied depending on where the selfie-takers were from.

Falling from a great height, such as a clifftop or the top of a building, was the most common cause of death, the researchers found.

India had the most recorded selfie deaths (76), which Lamba and his team attributed to the trend for taking photos with trains, and "the belief that posing on or next to train tracks with their best friend is regarded as romantic and a sign of never-ending friendship".

There were eight deaths in the U.S. and six in Russia, many of which were linked to weapons and could be due to the countries' gun laws. There were also nine selfie-related deaths in Pakistan.

The researchers are planning to develop an app that will alert selfie-takers when they're at risk by using their phone's location data and an algorithm that can identify risky locations.

The team reportedly tested their algorithm on 3000 selfies and it was 70% successful at identifying dangerous locations. (It remains to be seen whether receiving a notification in a hazardous situation would actually make you safer, though...)

High-profile Russian Instagrammer Drewsssik died after falling from a building in 2015. He had built a following my taking photos from up high. And a 12-year-old Russian girl, known as Oksana B, also died last month after falling from a balcony mid-selfie.

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