Human beings in the year 2016 enjoy taking photographs of themselves, almost as much as they like complaining about other people doing it. But, what happens when selfie-snapping crosses the line from nuisance to dangerous?
A new study from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the Idraprastha Institute of Information Technology in India looks into the direst possible outcome — selfie-related deaths. While individual stories of selfie deaths arenot new, this full collection of all the reported selfie deaths gives more insight into this depressing phenomenon on the whole.
Read about places tourists have perished taking selfies:
Places where tourists died taking selfies
Places where tourists died taking selfies
In June 2014, 16-year-old Italian Isabella Fracchiolla tried to take a picture of herself during a school trip to Taranto, a coastal city in southern Italy. She plunged 60 feet onto jagged rocks.
In November 2014, Sylwia Rajchel, a 23-year-old Polish medical student, was on vacation in Seville, Spain, when she tried to take a selfie on the famous Puente de Triana bridge. She lost her balance on the ledge and fell 15 feet.
In January 2015, a 21-year-old woman was allegedly on a first date with her long-distance boyfriend when she died taking a photo. A witness said Cheynne Holloway was standing on a large rock on the second highest point of Johannesburg, South Africa, when the boulder gave away and she fell almost fifty feet.
In May 2015, Eri Yunanto, 21, was on a hike with fellow students when he fell into the crater of the volcano Mount Merapi in Central Java. He lost his footing while taking a photo and his body was found 320 feet below.
Mohamed Aslam Shahul, a 21-year-old Singaporean man, died on an island off the coast of Bali in May 2015 after losing his balance when he was hit by a wave while taking a selfie. He fell into the sea from a 6-foot-high cliff. He reportedly couldn't swim and drowned.
A 21-year-old Russian student died trying to take a 'memorable selfie' with friends next to the Moscow International Business Center in July 2015 . Sources conflict on whether the bridge's fence broke while she leaned on it or if she couldn’t hold on to the railing.
Eyewitnesses say a Japanese tourist was snapping a selfie with friends at the Taj Mahal's Royal Gate in September 2015 when he and a friend fell from the staircase of the monument. One man died while the friend only broke his leg.
A 28-year-old South Korean tourist trying to take a picture plunged more than than 1,600 feet off of a cliff at the Gocta waterfall in Peru in June 2016. Divers retrieved his body 20 feet under the Amazonian lake.
On June 29th, 2016, a German tourist named Oliver Park, 51, was visiting Machu Picchu in Peru when he asked someone to take a photo of him mid-leap in an off-limits area. He slipped off a ledge and fell approximately 130 feet.
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The researchers collected their data using credible news sources found via an extensive web searching mechanism, finding that 127 selfie deaths resulting from 85 incidents have occurred worldwide since March 2014. In some cases, like a boat capsizing in India, as many as seven people died at once while selfie-ing.
Height-related selfie deaths were the most common, closely followed by both water-related and a combination height/water-related incidents. The lesson to be learned here is quite obviously to avoid taking selfies on the edge of sea cliffs if you want to stay alive.
The vast majority of selfie deaths have occurred in India, with a body count of 76. In Mumbai, the reports of these occurrences led police to sanction 16 "selfie-free zones."
"In the future we should figure out what it is about Indian culture, or Indian use of social media that is prompting such behavior," said one of the researchers, Henmak Lamba, a computer science PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University.
While more research is needed to understand the underlying factors of this problem, coastal tourist destinations, the massive size of the population, and the fast-growing cell phone market within the country may be contributing factors. (Portugal actually has the most significant selfie problem when evaluating the data on a per capita basis.)
Unsurprisingly, the majority of those killed while taking a selfie were millennials. Almost 80 percent of those killed whose ages were included within the report were under the age of 25.
In addition to classifying the dangerous means by which deathly selfies were taken, the researchers looked at selfies Twitter users have posted with hashtags like #dangerousselfie, #extremeselfie, #letmetakeaselfie, #selfieoftheday and #drivingselfie. Their findings revealed that the most common type of dangerous selfie — identified through text, image, and location-based features such as elevation — Twitter users shared were vehicle-related. Like these:
Their machine-based evaluation method of identifying risky selfies proved to be somewhat accurate, with image-based features signaling a risky selfie roughly 70 percent of the time. While the researchers noted the potential of automatically identifying whether an image is dangerous or not for the purpose of discouraging unsafe selfies, they're hesitant about what to do with their findings.
See photos of people taking questionable selfies:
People taking questionable selfies
People taking questionable selfies
Tourists take a 'selfie' picture as demonstrators burn a trash container during a May Day rally in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, May 1, 2014. Tens of thousands of workers marked May Day in European cities with a mix of anger and gloom over austerity measures imposed by leaders trying to contain the eurozone's intractable debt crisis. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
A protestor makes a selfie in front of a burning car during a national trade union demonstration in Brussels, Thursday Nov. 6, 2014. Tens of thousands of demonstrators are converging on the Belgian capital to protest government policies that will extend the pension age, contain wages and cut into public services. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
Darius Crenshaw, left, and his sister Keona, both of Ferguson, Mo., take a selfie while standing in front of a burned down beauty salon from last night's riots, Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Overnight protests following a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown were far more destructive than any of those that followed Brown's Aug. 9 death, with more than a dozen businesses badly damaged or destroyed. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 6: Protestors take a selfie in front of burning police motorbike in Brussels, on November 6, 2014. Belgians protest government's policies that will extend the pension age, contain wages and cut into public services. (Photo by Mehmet Kaman/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 22: A Chinese man takes a selfie in a snow covered Tiananmen Square during a snowfall on November 22, 2014 in Beijing, China. China's capital and other parts of northern China had its second snowfall of the year Sunday. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - 2015/03/22: Two men take a selfie with the traditional bonfire, at Newroz celebration rally. (Photo by Piero Castellano/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Palestinian protesters take a selfie after a march against Palestinian land confiscation to expand the nearby Jewish Hallamish settlement on August 28, 2015 in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 09: A demonstrator, marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, stops to take a selfie while protesting along West Florrisant Street on August 9, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. There are reports that two people were shot when gun fire broke out during protests later in the evening. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014. His death sparked months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and drew nationwide focus on police treatment of black suspects. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - MAY 22: A member of the press takes a 'selfie' with Thai army soldiers standing guard at the grounds of the venue for peace talks between pro- and anti-government groups on May 22, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand. The army chief announced in an address to the nation that the armed forces were seizing power amid reports that leaders of the opposing groups attending the talks were being detained by the military. Thailand has seen months of political unrest and violence which has claimed at least 28 lives. (Photo by Rufus Cox/Getty Images)
A participant of the Mrs Universe 2015 contest takes a selfie picture as she stands close to a 360 ton payload BelAZ mining dump truck at the BelAZ plant in Zhodino, outside Minsk, on August 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI GAPON (Photo credit should read SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty Images)
HUNSTANTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 05: A man takes a selfie next to a dead sperm that stranded itself on a beach between Old Hunstanton and Holme on February 5, 2016 in Hunstanton, England. The whale is currently the 29th to get stranded in Europe in the past two weeks and due to its weight of between 25 and 30 tonnes was unable to be rescued. (Photo by Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Tourists take a selfie during a desert safari trip in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on November 4, 2015. Britain temporarily suspended flights from Sharm El-Sheikh as it was concerned a Russian airliner that crashed in Egypt may have been downed by a bomb, while the Islamic State group insisted it caused the disaster. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Runners take a selfie during the 'The Color Run Night' in Stockholm on September 11, 2015. The Color Run founder, Travis Snyder, was inspired by the Indian Holi Festival, and decided to combine the idea with a 5km running experience. From the first event in the United States in January 2012 The Color Run has since spread across the globe leaving a trail of color and happy runners. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
VAN, TURKEY - DECEMBER 25: A man takes a selfie as water sprayed meters into the air, freezing to form icicles after the freezing cold in the neighborhood of Muradiye led to the explosion of a water pipeline at the Sarimehmet Dam in Van, Turkey on December 25, 2015. (Photo by Necat Hasar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Kuwaiti man takes a selfie with a falcon during a training session in al-Salmi district, 120 kms west of Kuwait City, on December 19, 2015 in preparation for a falconry competition.
/ AFP / YASSER AL-ZAYYAT (Photo credit should read YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 5: Tourists enjoy sticking wads of gum to surrounding walls and taking selfies at Seattle's famed 'Gum Wall' on November 5, 2015, in Seattle, Washington. Located in an alley below Pike Place Market, the gum wall will be steam cleaned next week after accumulating 20 years of chewing gum. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
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"We have to approach this problem really carefully, largely because we don't want...giving a [danger] score to each selfie...because teenagers taking a selfie using it to say, 'Look I took a selfie more dangerous than the one you took,'" Lamba explained. "So having a score-based system might not be an option."
A reasonable concern, seeing as a large number of these deaths (while accidental) appear to have occurred when taking a wild selfie was part of the appeal, like in the case of the Mexican man who accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for a selfie with his .45-caliber pistol, or the Denver pilot who crashed his plane while pausing to say cheese.