This culture of seeking out a death-defying situation for the likes, followers, and popularity gained in 2011. A Canadian named Tom Ryaboi dangled his feet over the edge of a tall building in Toronto and took a picture straight down with the caption “I’ll make you famous.” He posted it on Flickr, Reddit, and 500px. The picture went viral.
A study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that some 259 people died taking selfies between October 2011 and November 2017. The leading cause of death while taking selfies is drowning, followed by transportation, trains, and cars, and then falling from high places.
A 26-year-old Chinese roof topping enthusiast, Wu Yongning, fell to his death from the 62-story Huayuan Hua Centre, one of the tallest buildings in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, on November 8, 2017. His family said the roof topping challenge had come with 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) in prize money, there were no details about who the sponsor was.
Social media risk-taking culture varies by nation. More than half of all global selfie deaths happen in India. The top four nations in selfie deaths, according to the report are, in order: India, Russia, the United States, and Pakistan. The majority of Indians who die while trying to capture photos for social media do so by falling off high places. Many other such deaths involve “train surfing,” a phenomenon so big in India that National Geographic covered it.
In the U.S., as one might predict, the majority of such deaths are by firearms. YouTube and some other social sites have witnessed wave after wave of dangerous “challenges” since 2014, including the “Fire Challenge,” where people set themselves on fire.
Other social media-driven stunts include dangerous driving or riding a bike or motorcycle; climbing on or touching power lines; posing at railroad tracks; posing with guns, grenades, or other weapons; and posing at beaches or on rocks with large waves.
Wikipedia actually keeps a list of people killed or nearly killed while trying to take selfies. Most of these deaths were not habitual social media risk-takers or rising social media stars, regular people happens to be killed while taking selfies during unusual circumstances.
We don’t know the actual numbers of people who have died in recent years due to the risk-taking social trend, just that fatalities and injuries are on the rise. The question is – “Is our life just worth one photo?”