India reports maximum selfie deaths

New Delhi: At least 127 people have lost their lives in dangerous attempts to click a selfie in the last two years, of which India has reported the maximum deaths. The selfie-addicted generation witnessed 76 deaths in the country. Most were hit by trains or fell from heights or drowned while clicking selfies.

In a first of its kind study, Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT-D) along with Carnegie Mellon University in USA went through data over the last two years from March 2014 till September 2016. After India, Pakistan came second with nine ‘selfie-related’ deaths in two years followed by USA with eight deaths.

The report ‘Me, Myself and My Killfie’, released this week, shows the increasing trend of selfies and of uploading those pictures on social media platforms. The researchers have studied the reasons of taking selfies, locations where selfie-addicts are attracted towards to click a picture and the characteristics of the deaths.

In 2015, an estimated 24 billion selfies were uploaded on Google, the study showed, with people in age bracket 18 to 33 most prone to clicking selfies.

In 2014, 15 deaths due to selfies were recorded, which rose to 39 in 2015 and 73 in 2016 globally. Other countries where a large number of people died while attempting selfies were Russia, Philippines and Spain. The researchers used Twitter to stream through 1.38 lakh tweets to understand what kind of locations were dangerous for selfies and reasons why people took them.

Deaths were maximum in cases where people attempted to take selfies at a great height, and accidentally fell off. The second highest deaths were due to drowning. In January this year, three girls fell into the sea while attempting to click a selfie near Bandra Fort in Mumbai. The Mumbai police identified 16 no-selfie zones subsequently where people were advised to not take their pictures.”

“Clicking selfies has become a symbol of self-expression and often people portray their adventurous side by uploading crazy selfies,” the report observed. Other dangerous locations the report found were near railway tracks and while driving a vehicle.

The ongoing research is now focussing on creating a mobile application to evaluate dangerous selfie-clicking spots and an interactive platform for users to check such spot”. “It is disturbing that India has reported so many deaths due to selfies, mostly of children. Through the research, we speculate that ease of technology and availability of smart phones has led to such an addiction,” said Dr Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, Professor of Computer Sciences at IIIT-D, who authored the study.

The study observed that women take more selfies than men although death was higher among men. At least 75.5 per cent deaths were that of men who attempted to take a picture in dangerous locations. Most of the victims who died at dangerous locations were aged less than 24 year”. “Selfies have reached a level of addiction in youngsters. Some have to compulsively take a certain number of selfies every day failing which they start having withdrawal features like irritability, palpitations and decreased concentration,” said Dr Sagar Mundada, attached with the psychiatry unit at JJ hospital. The hospital receives over a dozen cases of online addiction every month from different socio-economic background.

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