Stop Risking Your Life For A Damn Selfie

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Scary Mommy and Photoboyko/Getty

If you’re anybody who has spent any time on social media in the past five or so years, chances are likely you’ve become well-acquainted with the ever-growing selfie trend. And if you’re somebody who’s hopped on the fad, it’s probable you’ve utilized all the tips and tricks to achieve your most “liked” picture.

You know how to hold your phone at the perfect angle for the shot, which light suits you best, and you’re familiarized with which side is your “good” side and which side can occasionally make you look, well… a little wild. But one thing you hopefully know best? When to take a selfie and when to not.

I’m not talking about awkwardly inserting yourself into selfie-mode at a wedding while the bride and groom exchange their “I dos” (although, we all know this would be a colossal no-no too). I’m talking about the over-the-top, extraordinary lengths some folks will go to in order to create the most thrilling picture for social media. And, ultimately, lose their lives for it in the process too.

Whether it be on top of a skyscraper, on the train tracks, or even on the side of a cliff, according to one global study, 259 people died while trying to take a selfie from 2011-2017. And although we perceive the act of “selfie-taking” as being a woman’s go-to, the study concludes that 75% of these deaths were men, while nearly all of the deaths occurred while “risky behavior” was engaged.

Not only that, but because “death by selfie” is not an actual cause of death, the actual number is believed by researchers to be much higher.

“Selfies are never reported as an official cause of death,” the study states. “It is believed that selfie deaths are underreported and the true problem needs to be addressed.”

Recently, a French tourist died in Thailand after a slip and 260-foot fall that happened while taking a selfie in the same spot another Spanish visitor died from taking a selfie earlier in the year.


A newlywed and three relatives drowned in a reservoir while they and two other relatives tried to take a selfie.

And in 2018, two Russian soldiers died when an active grenade unexpectedly detonated while, you guessed it, they were taking a selfie.

These are preventable deaths caused from something as innocent as a selfie, people. And without taking away the severity or humanity from the deceased in this study, or their grieving families left to deal with such a senseless tragedy, it’s fair to assume that our quest to take the most extreme and “liked” selfie is seriously getting out of hand.

So much so, that in certain places — particularly tourist areas where drowning, falls and transit accidents are more likely — “no-selfie zones” have been created, per researchers’ suggestions. For instance, in 2017, Yellowstone National Park asked its visitors to follow its “Safe Selfie” policy after five people taking a selfie aroused a bison into attacking them and causing injury.

With the sudden rise and ever-growing rate of social media, especially for those who matured with or after it, has come a flood of instant gratification for people with the click of the button. And for some folks, it seems like there is little to nothing they wouldn’t do “for the ‘gram.”

Not only is this “need for selfies” killing too many people, but it’s causing our young folks to forget how to live in the moment. Instead of taking in the sunset peeking through an ocean view, we waste time trying to get the perfect shot of ourselves inserted with that sunset. And sure, a picture is worth a thousand words. And yes, when all of us fall to ash, the only thing remaining to tell our tale will be memories and photos.

But since when did people become so obsessed with the documentation and, perhaps, oversharing of the beauty and excitement that they have started to risk their actual lives for it? More people seem to be living by the “if other people don’t have proof, it didn’t really happen” — and it’s causing disastrous results.

With our privacy almost willfully eradicated with the use of social media, we need to remember that it’s okay to keep some moments sacred. Some memories don’t need to be shared or captured, because they were meant for you and you alone.

And while taking a selfie to share with our friends isn’t a self-absorbed event, and every single one of us does it, it’s important that we stay mindful of the environment and location before we strike a pose. Because when safety concerns come into play, there is no picture worth dying for.

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