Over the years, the selfie phenomenon has taken hold, and actually begun to pose a threat to people’s well-being. Suddenly, without having posted a selfie of doing a fun activity or visiting a well-known destination, many travelers find themselves asking, “Did it really happen?”
People take selfies for a variety of reasons and in numerous locations. It’s only natural to want to show off at a popular spot, but is it worth it when it turns out to be harmful -- and in even worse cases -- fatal?
1. A Couple Slips Up
In October 2018, a couple slipped and fell to their deaths in Yosemite National Park. Meenakshi Moorthy and her husband, Vishnu Viswanath, were travel bloggers that lived for the thrill of taking risky photos on cliff edges. Their last adrenaline filled photo turned fatal, however. Their tripod and camera were found set up near the edge of a cliff with a scenic view of a California horizon the next morning. Their bodies were later discovered 800 feet below a popular tourist spot, Taft Point.
2. Bikini Shot
On January 19, 2019, Gigi Wu fell into a 100-foot-deep gorge at Jupen Mountain in Taiwan. Unable to move because of her injuries, Wu contacted a friend for help, but due to the location of the fall, rescuers had a tough time reaching her. Rescuers finally reached and retrieved Wu on June 21, 48 hours after her fall, but it was too late. Her Jupen Mountain photo moment was her last. Wu, who was best known for posing on the tops of mountains in bikinis, was believed to have died from hypothermia.
3. A Man Too Close To The Edge
On March 28, 2019, a man from Hong Kong was found dead 1,000 feet below the edge of the Eagle Point Observation area at the Grand Canyon. Despite signs that warn tourists not to get too close to the edge, the man slipped to his death while trying to take pictures of himself.
4. Selfie With A Jaguar
On the evening of March 9, 2019, a woman visiting the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, Arizona, was attacked by a Jaguar as she attempted to take a memorable selfie with the animal. The woman suffered from non-life threatening injuries to her arm and was lucky enough to have survived the attack. Ashamed of her actions, she returned to the zoo to apologize for the bad publicity she caused the park to receive -- taking full responsibility for her injuries. The park made a post on Twitter accepting her apology, while also updating the public on the event.
The Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care published a study in 2018 detailing “selfie-related deaths across the globe.” From 2011 to 2017 there were a shocking total of 259 deaths due to selfies associated with 137 distinct incidents.
“There have been 3 selfie-related deaths reported in 2011; 2 in 2013; 13 in 2014; 50 in 2015; 98 and 93, respectively, in 2016 and 2017,” according to the journal, proving that selfie-related deaths have risen tremendously over the years. The top three causes are drowning, “transport” (for example, being hit by a train), and falls. The study suggests that the rise in deaths can be explained by the increased usage and features on mobile devices.
The issue has become so bad that popular tourist areas, especially in Mumbai, India, have been designated “No selfie zones.”
According to the study, 16 Mumbai areas have been declared as “no selfie zones.” Administrative officials in Indonesia are preparing a safe selfie spot for foreigners and tourists at Mount Merapi in response to the rising risk of selfie deaths. The Russian response to the crisis involves boards and slogans that advise against taking selfies in risky conditions or areas that pose a high risk to visitors who might lose their footing.
Researchers are working to develop an application that will identify when someone is taking a selfie in a dangerous situation and alert them of the possible risk to their life. The app idea is based on the ability to analyze and identify risky and unsafe locations.
As injuries and deaths related to selfies continue to rise, will more popular tourist destinations begin to adopt the ideas of the destinations highlighted in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care study? The future is unclear, but selfies aren't going anywhere any time soon. We encourage common sense and look forward to an effective solution to this rising issue amongst travelers in search of the perfect shot.