Last month, a 66-year-old Japanese tourist was taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal when he tripped down a flight of stairs and died from the resulting injuries. At least 12 people have died so far this year while attempting to take selfies. Of course, it’s not the picture itself that kills, but the dangerous behavior surrounding it. As “extreme selfies” become more popular, too many people are taking unnecessary risks to achieve the perfect picture. The problem has become so acute in Russia that the Interior Ministry has initiated a publicity campaign to educate the public about selfie safety. Here are the situations to avoid, taken from lessons learned the hard way.
There are two main dangers where trains are concerned: The force of the train itself and the live wires surrounding the track. Three students in Agra, India were attempting to take selfies with an oncoming train in January when they were run over and killed. Several deaths and injuries have also resulted from accidental contact with live wires in pursuit of “ultimate selfies.”
It should seem like common sense, but anything that distracts from operating a moving vehicle should be avoided, selfies included. In April 2014, a woman crashed into a recycling truck and died on Interstate 85 in North Carolina minutes after posting selfies and a status to Facebook. And in May of the same year, a pilot was so distracted by texting and taking selfies that he lost control of the plane and crashed, killing himself and a passenger.
Cliffs and Ledges
It’s better to look down at the ground than at a phone screen when exploring high elevation sites. In August 2014, a Polish couple in Portugal reportedly crossed a safety barrier to take a selfie off the Cabo da Roca cliffs. They fell and tragically died, leaving their two young children behind. And just last week, a teenager died while orchestrating a selfie from the top of a nine-story building. He had already posted many such “extreme” pictures of himself.
The primary danger with wild and potentially dangerous animals is turning our backs to them. This August, a young man died while attempting a selfie during the running of the bulls in Villaseca de la Sagra, Spain. At Yellowstone National Park, a woman thankfully survived being flipped over by a bison with whom she was attempting to take a photo. Waterton Canyon park in Denver had to close down because so many people were taking selfies with wild bears.
Guns and Weapons
A surprising number of people have accidentally shot themselves while posing for selfies with loaded guns pointed at their heads. A teenager in Houston died in September while taking selfies with a gun he had found with his cousin earlier that day. In January, two Russian teenagers pulled the pin from a grenade so that they could take a picture with it. The grenade exploded and the teenagers died. The phone and the selfie itself somehow survived the explosion, however, perhaps as a reminder for the rest of us to exercise our common sense and prioritize safety over social media fame.