If you ever got annoyed by someone almost bumping into you on the sidewalk because they were staring into their phone instead of watching where they were going, then get ready for an unhealthy dose of schadenfreude, because selfies have turned out to be quite the lethal activity.
To illustrate the risks of hanging off ledges with selfie sticks, or backing ever closer to a railway line in search of the perfect vanity framing, Priceonomics has compiled data for selfie deaths, with some rather interesting results. Take it with a grain of salt, though: all the data was pulled from Google News Archives and Wikipedia.
Almost three times (36) more males died from selfies than females (13). Combining this with the age breakdown, where 21-year-olds are far more likely to have a tragic accident while snapping a self-portrait, we can assume that testosterone is fuelling these show-offs to ever more risky shots. Women take way more selfies than men, according to Priceonomics’ Zachary Crockett, although they don’t kill themselves while doing it nearly so often.
Falling from a height is the number one way to die for selfie-snappers, closely followed by drowning. Then we have train, gunshot, and grenade. At the bottom, with just a few cases, are plane and car crashes, and the scary-sounding “animal.”
Crockett details a few of the deaths, and they’re as avoidable as they are tragic: A Chinese man whose final photograph captured himself mid-fall as he tripped and fell down a ravine; a 17-year-old Russian hanging off a ledge to get a picture for his Instagram; or an Indian college student with an oncoming train in order to get “many likes” on Facebook. There was even a pilot who crashed his Cessna because he lost control of the plane while snapping selfies. The pilot was 29 years old.
If you ever watched YouTube videos of youngsters attempting daredevil tricks, you won’t be surprised to learn that Russia is high in the league of selfie deaths, coming in second, with seven fatalities (Crockett counts 49 selfie deaths in total since 2014). Third is the U.S., with five deaths, but the runaway winner is India, where 19 people have distracted themselves to death in recent years. The majority of these were drownings—largely because seven friends died together in one incident when their boat turned over while snapping selfies.
We might chuckle at the stupidity of these self-inflicted deaths, but it’s easy to see that they’re just a modern take on the need for youngsters to impress their peers. After all, which of us hasn’t done something stupid, just to impress other people?