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The invention and refinement of smartphones' rear and front cameras have turned millions of smartphone owners into amateur photographers. More so, it has led to an added dimension of photography—selfies—thereby producing an influx of amateur-to-expert selfie-ers, that is, selfie photographers.
Nonetheless, the selfie craze has catapulted into the world's limelight a new form of death—selfie-kills. Even though "selfie deaths" hasn't been classified as an official cause of death, the world is witnessing an increase in selfie deaths, particularly among youths.
A study done by Agam Bansal and his colleagues discovered 259 deaths from 137 incidents were reported between October 2011 to November 2017. India led the pack with the highest number of selfie deaths, followed by Russia, the United States, and Pakistan in fourth place. According to the researchers, drowning, transport, and fall were the most commonly reported reasons for deaths related to selfies.
When they investigated selfie deaths in relation to risky and non-risky behaviour, they found that most of them, including incidents, were more reported among selfie-ers who engaged in risky behaviour. Men, they discovered, are approximately three times more likely to engage in risky behaviours than females when capturing a selfie.
Careful investigation of selfie-related deaths reveals three things that might have led to otherwise preventable deaths.
- The selfie-ers' obsession with their selfies making them oblivious to their surrounding.
- The need to get a stunning photo or video, not minding the situation or location where they're taking their photos.
- The disastrous desire to capture photos or videos in threatening or dangerous locations.
The following are 15 selfie-related deaths that occurred from 2015 to 2020.
1. Fall From the 27th Floor
October 2018, Panama, Portugal
A 44-year old teacher and mother of two plunged from a balcony of the 27th floor of an apartment, where she'd rented a room, leading to her sudden death.
Sandra Manuela Da Costa Macedo spent several minutes taking selfies before sitting on the balcony's railing for a final selfie. The last selfie proved fatal as she lost her balance and fell to her death.
She had been warned by construction workers from an opposite block to be careful. However, she didn't pay attention to their concern.
The horrible death was filmed by nearby construction workers, which shows the woman falling from the 27th floor while holding a selfie stick.
2. Drowned in a Lake
March 2015, Kahi Taluka, India
Seven youths drowned in Lake Mangul, Kahi Taluka, when the boat they were in capsized.
The group of youths consisted of ten young boys in their late adolescence and early twenties who had gone for a picnic near the lake. Seven of them got on a boat to shoot a group selfie whilst on the lake.
The boat overturned when they crowded on one side to take some selfies. The three young men who had remained on the land shouted for help when they saw the boat capsizing.
A crowd gathered to save the drowning youths. Unfortunately, poor lighting made it difficult for the swimmers to rescue the drowning youths, who were struggling to stay afloat.
Their bodies were recovered the next day, in the morning.
3. Business 85 Road Crash
April 2014, Guilford County, N.C., U.S.
A 32-year-old woman slammed onto an oncoming recycling truck on a North Carolina highway; a minute after updating her Facebook status.
Courtney Ann Sanford, driving a Toyota Corolla, crossed the road's median and hit the oncoming truck which deviated from the road, hitting a tree. Her car caught fire after veering off the road, landing in a ditch near some trees.
She was driving the car at 45mph (72km/hr) before slamming onto the truck.
Investigators discovered Sanford died a few seconds after posting on her Facebook's status wall: 'The happy song makes me HAPPY! ' in reference to the hit song, 'Happy' by Pharrell William.
They also discovered that she had taken a selfie and posted it on Facebook along with the text, 'The happy song makes me HAPPY' while driving.
She died instantly at the scene.
4. Romanian Teen Bursts Into Flame
May 2015, Lasi, Rome
An 18-year-old girl, Ann Ursu, and her 17-year-old friend were electrocuted when Ursu accidentally touched a live wire while taking a selfie.
Ann Ursu, together with her friend, had gone to a train station in the town of Lasi to capture some selfies which she intended to post on Facebook.
They got on the roof of a stationary train and laid on it. While attempting to capture a 'perfect' selfie at a certain angle, Ursu lifted one of her legs which brought her in contact with an electrical field surrounding the overhead cables. Her body burst into flames when her clothes caught fire resulting from 27,000 volts that were discharged to her body. Her friend was thrown off the roof of the carriage.
A passerby who witnessed the horrific incident rushed to the top of the carriage to put off the fire. After diminishing the fire, he called an emergency service number.
Both girls were airlifted to a hospital, but Ursu died shortly because half of her body was covered with burns.
5. Mauled to Death by a Bear
May 2018, Odisha, India
A man was killed by a bear when he tried to take a selfie alongside it.
Prabhu Bhatara had stopped the truck he was driving to relieve himself in a forest in the eastern state of Odisha.
The man saw an injured bear and thought, why not take a selfie alongside the beast. He neared the creature for a selfie. Instead of getting a good selfie shot, the animal attacked him.
He had been warned not to approach the creature, but he ignored the locals' concern.
A film which was taken of the incident shows the man struggling to free himself from the animal's grip. A man and a stray dog could be seen trying to scare off the wild animal.
He died on the spot.
6. Death by a Live Grenade
January 2015, Russia
Two Russian soldiers posed for a selfie while holding a live grenade. Unfortunately, as they didn't expect it, the grenade exploded. Both soldiers were killed by its impact. Their selfie survived to tell the tale of their tragic deaths.
7. Death by Gun Shot
March 2016, Washington, U.S.
The problem with posing for a selfie with a gun pointed at your face is that you can accidentally shoot yourself when you press the trigger.
A 43-year-old man whose name was withheld shot himself in the face, not realizing one bullet had remained in the gun.
He was cautious by unloading the bullets before taking the selfies and loading the bullets after the photo session. The last selfie proved fatal when he didn't carefully inspect the gun before taking a selfie. A single bullet had remained in the gun.
He was with his girlfriend, who witnessed the horrific death.
8. Crushed by Train
May 2019, Hayana, India
Three teenagers were hit by a train and died immediately after they had attended a wedding at Panipat City located in the northern state of Hayana.
Including a fourth teenager, the four teenagers approached a railway track to take some selfies.
They heard the sound of a train approaching, forcing them to jump on a second track. They were unaware another train was approaching the second track they had jumped onto.
The fourth teenager was lucky to escape the impending death when he jumped on an opposite track that did not have an oncoming train.
9. Fall from a Dam
October 2019, Tamil Mardi, India
A newly-wed bride, V. Nivedha, 20, and her three family members drowned at a dam while taking selfies. The first to slip was the youngest member, Santosha, 14. This caused others, Kanniga, 20, Sneha, 22 and V. Nivedha to fall into the water.
The husband, G. Perumalsamy, 25, narrowly escaped and managed to save his younger sister, Yuvurani Perumalsamy, 15.
The drowned bodies were recovered on the same day.
10. Airstrip Incident
March 2017, Chihuahua, Mexico
Two female teenagers, Nitzia Mendoza Corral, 18, and Clarissa Morquecho Miranda, 17, died immediately when they were hit by one of the wings of a light aircraft that was landing on an airstrip in Chihuahua.
On the afternoon of that fateful day, the girls had left a racehorse event that had come to an end to take selfies near an airstrip in Chihuahua.
Standing in the back of a van, the girls were videoing themselves, unaware that a plane was landing. The loud noise from the racehorse event made it difficult for them to hear the noise of the plane as it landed.
The girls had been warned by some people to get off the van as it was dangerous, but they didn't take the warnings seriously.
11. Shot by Police
June 2015, Punjab Province, Pakistan
Farhan, 15, was taking selfies while pointing a gun at Fahad, 14, when they were shot by a station house.
The boys were rushed to a district hospital in the province, but Farhan died that night due to excessive bleeding.
During an investigation inquiry, the senior police officer who shot the two boys told the team they'd mistaken the boys for armed robbers, propelling him to shoot them. The investigation team established the gun the young boy was holding was a toy.
The senior police officer and his four colleagues were arrested and a murder case was opened.
12. Drowned in a Well
November 2019, Pattabiram, Chennai, India
A young woman died after falling into a well as she tried taking a selfie near it.
T. Mercy Steffy, 24, together with her fiancé, was visiting a farm near Kandigai village when she desired to take a selfie at a well located on the farm.
She climbed up the stairs that were built on one side of the well and sat on the edge of the stairs. While taking selfies, she lost balance and fell into the well.
Her fiancé also fell as he tried to save her from falling into the well.
He shouted for help, and soon, a farmer came into his aid. Unfortunately, the farmer couldn't rescue Mercy as she wasn't visible on the surface of the water.
The fire and rescue personnel retrieved Mercy's body after being alerted.
13. Fall Into a Gorge
A young woman, 27, fell into a gorge as the boulders she's was sitting on gave way to her weight due to the loose mud beneath them.
Her husband was unsuccessful in holding her hand to keep her from falling.
With the assistance of other people, he brought her wife back to the road. She was rushed to a hospital at Chakan as she'd sustained a severe head injury. Afterwards, she was moved to a private hospital. Several hours later, she was declared dead.
The couple had gone to Bhimashankar to offer prayers in the temple located in the pilgrimage town. On their way back, they stopped at Mandoshi ghat section near Bhimarshankar. Some picnickers were taking pictures of the scenery which enticed them to take some of their own. They sat on boulders which acted as a barrier to the 100-feet gorge below before the incident occurred.
14. Electrocution on a Train
March 18, 2014, Andújar, Spain
A 21-year-old man died from electric shock when he touched a high voltage wire.
The young man and his friends climbed on the top of a parked train at Andùjar railway station to capture a selfie. On the roof, the young man touched the electric wire thinking, alongside his friends, it wasn't electrified.
In essence, it's in use. As a result, an electric charge of 3,500 volts passed through his body. He died at the scene while one of his friends, Alto Guadalquivir, who had survived the electric shock, was rushed to a local hospital in a critical condition.
15. Fall From a Railway Bridge
April 22, 2014, Krasnogvardeyaky, Russia
Xenia Ignatyeva, 17, fell from a railway bridge in Krasnogvardeyaky and died shortly afterwards before the police arrived.
Xenia had climbed the 30 feet high bridge to take a selfie. Unfortunately, she lost her balance and fell from one of the sides of the bridge. Frantically, she grabbed the high voltage wires to save herself from plunging to the concrete below. She was electrocuted before she fell on the ground when 1,500 volts of electric charge were discharged to her body.
Her friend, Pal Oksana Zhankova, 17, who was waiting below, was found by police crouched beside the dead body of her friend; paralysed by shock.
Note: An article by International Business Times (IB) has discredited this story as a hoax. According to the digital global news publication, Angela Nikolau, known as Xenia Ignatyeva on publications that reported her tragic death, is currently alive going by her social media account, VK. She is known to take selfies in dangerous places such as on top of buildings.
16. Hit by a Train
April 2015, Lacarak, Serbia
Serbian Igor Kemeter, 22, wanted to recreate a stunt performed by a boy in a Serbian film titled, Baking at the Stars. The boy in the film claims he can run very fast and proves to his pals by running in front of an oncoming train.
Serbian who had been waiting for a train ran along the rail line while taking a selfie with his phone. He was hit by the oncoming express train moving at a high speed and died at the spot.
© 2020 Alianess Benny Njuguna