Selfie madness: too many dying to get the picture

Thu Sep 3, 2015 12:28am EDT
 
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By Matt Siegel

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The rise of selfie photography in some of the world's most beautiful, and dangerous, places is sparking a range of interventions aimed at combating risk-taking that has resulted in a string of gruesome deaths worldwide.

The act of taking a picture of oneself with a mobile phone, placing the subject center-stage, has exploded in popularity in recent years, with everyone from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to U.S. President Barack Obama joining in.

But the selfie has also inspired a spate of risk taking and offensive public behavior, pushing the boundaries of safety and decorum, whether by dangling from a skyscraper or posing with live explosives.

Several governments and regulatory bodies have now begun treating the selfie as a serious threat to public safety, leading them to launch public education campaigns reminiscent of those against smoking and binge drinking.

Dozens of grisly selfie-related deaths and injuries in early 2015 led Russia's Interior Ministry to launch a campaign warning avid mobile phone snappers about the danger of, among other things, posing for a selfie with a lion.

In June, two men in the Ural Mountains died after posing pulling the pin from a hand grenade; in May a woman survived shooting herself in the head in her Moscow office; a month later a 21-year-old university graduate plunged 40 feet (12 meters) to her death while posing hanging from a Moscow bridge.

"A cool selfie could cost you your life," reads a poster from the campaign, which includes safety videos and information booklets.

Despite Russia's diplomatic isolation over its support for separatist rebels in Ukraine, on the issue of dangerous selfies the Kremlin finds itself in accord with the European Union and the United States.   Continued...

 
A man takes a selfie by a crashing wave on Beirut's Corniche, a seaside promenade, as high winds sweep through Lebanon during a storm in this February 11, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/Files