Indians really need to stop taking fatal selfies: Here are the most dangerous types of selfies

An impressive photo on your social media feeds is no reason to throw your life away.

Two teenage girls in Punjab were taking a stroll along a canal, when a phone they were taking a selfie with fell into the water. The girls were swept away when they tried to retrieve the phone. This is the latest in a spate of selfie related deaths in the country. A few days ago, eight men in a boat drowned after gathering one one side to snap a selfie. According to a report in The Hindu, the men were so busy focusing on the selfie, that they did not notice water flooding the boat.


In June, a girl was washed away in Marine Drive on Mumbai, reportedly while attempting to take selfies, a claim dismissed by the Mumbai Police. None of these incidents have yet made it to the Wikipedia list of selfie related deaths, a page on which Incidents in India appear with chilling frequency. In 2017 alone, twelve Indians have died taking selfies according to the list. A study published in November 2016 showed that 76 Indians have died taking selfies since March 2014. To put that number in context, the next highest number was 9, in Pakistan.


The research was part of the development of an AI based application to warn people when they are taking a dangerous selfie. In India, most of the deaths have occurred after the selfie was taken around water bodies. A location that is both at a height and around a water body is a decidedly lethal combination. Wells, dams, reservoirs, and waterfalls are particularly dangerous.


The last selfie before a group of eight men died after their boat capsized. Image: The Hindu/S Sudarshan

Using data farmed from the Wikipedia list, it is even more clear that water bodies are responsible for the most selfie related deaths in India. In many of the accidents, multiple people are involved, either in trying to rescue those who are drowning, or when boats capsize. In one instance in Hyderabad, a girl taking a selfie slipped and fell into a water reservoir. Five people who tried to rescue her drowned in the attempt, but the girl herself managed to reach the shore, according to a report in The Hindustan Times.


After water bodies, the next most dangerous place to take a selfie is on trains. The deaths can range from being run over by trains, being electrocuted on top of trains, or falling off the footboard. In one accident reported by The Hindustan Times, four men jumped out of a train to rescue a friend who had fallen off while taking a selfie while leaning out of the train. A train coming from the opposite direction mowed them all down.


After water bodies and trains, selfie related deaths are caused by falling from heights, or while posing with firearms. The Wikipedia list is by no means comprehensive. For example, it does not include the death of a fifteen year old boy in Bihar, while attempting to take a selfie with a wild elephant on a rampage in the maize fields. The most dangerous places to take selfies are heights, water bodies, water and heights, trains, weapons, vehicles, electricity and animals. An impressive photo on your social media feeds is no reason to throw your life away.

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