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Deaths while taking selfies, ‘killfies,’ are on the rise

Hands of a woman using her mobile phone while driving.

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A new study has found that 127 people died worldwide while trying to take selfies between March 2014 and September of this year.

The study, by scholars from Carnegie Mellon University and from two other colleges in India, defined selfie-related casualties, or “killfies,” as “a death of an individual or a group of people that could have been avoided had the individual(s) not been taking a selfie.”

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The vast majority of selfie-related deaths that the study’s authors uncovered, 76 of them, occurred in India, where no-selfie zones were established recently to try to prevent people from trying to take dangerous selfies in high-risk areas.

Pakistan was a distant second with nine selfie-related deaths, followed by the United States, with 8; Russia, 6; China, 5; Philippines, 4; and Spain, 3.

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There were two selfie-related deaths apiece in: Indonesia; Portugal, Peru, and Turkey. There was one apiece in: Romania, Australia, Mexico, South Africa, Italy, Chile, Serbia, and Nepal.

Other highlights of the report include:

• Men accounted for about 76 percent of the deaths, suggesting they may be more prone to taking dangerous selfies, the researchers said.

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• Nearly three-quarters of victims were 29 years old or younger. The researchers said that fit with the trend of taking selfies being “really popular among millennials.”

• The most common reason for the deaths, accounting for 25 percent of them, was falling from an elevated location, like off buildings or mountains, while trying to take a selfie. Water-related deaths and ones involving both height and water were tied as the next most common type, at 21 percent each. Next were cases involving trains, 12 percent; weapons, 6 percent; and vehicles, 5.5 percent.

• While 127 people died, there were only 85 deadly incidents. That’s because multiple lives were lost in 24 of the deadly selfie-taking attempts. (An example researchers provided was an incident in India where a number of youths were boating in a lake. While trying to take a selfie, the boat tilted and seven of them died.) The taking of “dangerous selfies not only puts the selfie-taker at a risk but also can also be hazardous to the people around them,” the study concluded.

• The report said the data dates back to March 2014 because that is the earliest case the researchers were able to find of a selfie-related death. During 2014, there were 15 selfie-related deaths, followed by 39 in 2015 and 73 in just the first nine months of 2016.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele
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