Selfie-Related Deaths are ‘Public Health Risk’ in Age of Social Media

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According to new research, selfie-related deaths constitute a new public health risk — with the most common deaths coming about from people falling off cliffs and waterfalls while taking a photo.

In a paper published in September, researchers found that selfie-related injury and deaths have become a public health concern amid the near ubiquitous use of smartphones and social media apps.

The paper scraped news reports of selfie-related deaths as well as a cross-sectional study by the iO Foundation that found 379 people were killed while taking selfies around the world between January 2008 and July 2021.

The researchers identified falls from height as the most common type of selfie-related injury. They said that tourists were most at risk, with the most common cause of death being falling from cliffs or waterfalls while attempting to take a selfie.

Drowning while attempting to take a selfie was the second most common cause of death.

The paper also found that prior to their deaths, people often climbed over barriers and fenced-off areas to reach the perfect selfie spot.

In a report by ABC News Australia, the paper’s lead author Sam Cornell says that in his opinion, the problem of selfie-related deaths is becoming so widespread that it should be considered a public health issue.

“It’s a problem that isn’t going anywhere,” Cornell tells ABC News Australia.

“People are more and more online, children are growing up with social media and smartphones from a very early age now.

“In the age of social media, people do want to go to beautiful places that photograph well because it looks great on their social media profiles, whether on TikTok or Instagram.”

According to the study, the average age of reported victims was around 22 years old. Researchers said that victims of selfie-related injuries were more likely to be female tourists.

The researchers said that “risk treatments” to prevent selfie deaths were limited. However, the adoption of “no selfie zones,” physical barriers, signage, and provision of information on dangerous locations to social media users could help.

Last month, PetaPixel reported on a tourist who disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean after she was swept away by a wave while reportedly taking a selfie with her husband.

Her husband eventually made his way out of the strong waves. However, the 63-year-old woman reportedly disappeared into the waters while taking the photograph and remains missing.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.