Dying while taking pictures is not a new thing. It is pretty easy to become absorbed in the picture you are taking rather than paying attention to your surroundings. The popularity of smart phones with digital cameras and 'turn around mode’ has increased the number of us looking at our phones and not at dangers near us.
More and more people are being injured or dying though in search of the perfect selfie. There were a reported 49 deaths from selfies in the world in 2014 of which 19 happened in India. The sheer number of people in India (1.25 Billion), and the popularity of mobile phones, means that they have had a large number of deaths. In 2015 more people died in selfie accidents than in shark attacks.
Globally people are walking into traffic, falling into the ocean, falling off cliffs, being hit by trains, and falling in other dangerous ways. Death and traumatic injuries abound. By some estimates thousands of people are injured every year in selfie accidents.
The Mumbai Government has had enough and is trying to control the number of people being injured and dying. They dispatched their police force to collect data on the places that the deaths and injuries were occurring. Places on and near cliffs where people are seen standing perilously close to the edge, and in front of high speed train crossings where people are standing to get the best ‘action’ shot. Once identified police made selfies off limits. Areas that are particularly risky were all included and posted. There are fines established as well.
It seems however, that the threat of fines and posting sites as no selfie zones has had little effect on the practice of people going and posing in their own pictures. Police are ramping up enforcement and are going to begin a public awareness campaign about the dangers of distracted photo taking.
Other disturbing selfie trends include the abuse of animals or of trespassing into holy sites to get the ultimate shot. Examples include the dolphin calf that died earlier this year after being caught in shallow waters and then passed around in a large group of people who all posed with it on the beach. The unfortunate mammal overheated and died. Tourists to the EU should be aware that legislation has been passed making it illegal to take selfies in front of sites containing public buildings.