Death by selfie: The dangerous truth about extreme selfies
Warning: This article contains images that some readers may find disturbing.
On the first weekend of April in 2017, a single mother from Ljuberzy, a large Russian city near Moscow, faced every parent's nightmare. She got a call at work from the local hospital: her 12-year-old daughter, who should actually have been at home, had been brought in with serious injuries. The girl had a concussion along with damage to her spine.
At the hospital, her mom found out what had happened. Her daughter had been trying to snap a cool selfie but had fallen from the third floor window. She hadn't intended to hurt herself, just to lean out for a moment. Unfortunately, she leaned too far and lost her balance...
She survived but others haven't been so lucky. It's hard to know how widespread the phenomenon of the "killfie" is — going to life-threatening lengths to get an exciting selfie — but a study published last November by Carnegie Mellon concluded that at least 127 people had died in connection with taking a selfie since March of 2014.
The estimated number is probably on the low side, however. If it included non-fatal accidents related to selfies, it would certainly be higher. Of course, if you consider the number of spectacular pics that do turn up on Instagram and Facebook, the number of failed efforts must be much greater.
We see some of them later in the news, like this photo of a young man's lifeless body:
The police explained that he was electrocuted when he climbed up a transmission tower. The reason for his misadventure? As you can imagine by taking a look at his social media accounts, he'd wanted to take a selfie from the highest point on the tower.
It can't be ruled out that he was spurred on by notorious selfies on Instagram. The best known "roofers" — people who climb up skyscrapers with no safeguards to capture risky selfies — have hundreds of thousands of followers. A lot of people call them crazy, but their pictures get "liked" anyway.
Fewer people see the other side of the story. Of course people know that "roofing" is a dangerous hobby. But fans are getting ever younger — and less careful.
This boy and his friends climbed up on a railroad bridge intending to take pictures of themselves once there.
When the "star" of the picture lost of his balance though, he tried to grab hold a cable but fell instead to the ground. He didn't survive.
For the roofers, it's not just about likes and followers. The boldest among them gain national and even international fame. One is the 23-year-old Russian, Angela Nikolau, whose risky photos have become well-known worldwide.
Her pictures get thousands of likes. Pictures of accidents are usually immediately deleted, although they show the reality of roofing perhaps a little more accurately.
This video is in Russian but you can still see some disturbing, explicit shots that show these dangers:
The tough thing to communicate to kids like the 12-year-old girl at the start of the story is how fast this can happen: when you take risks like this, it just takes one millisecond of inattention to destroy a life.
Take a minute and remind your friends and family that no picture is worth dying for!