If the disturbing news of two selfie deaths – one each in Mumbai and Jammu and Kashmir this weekend – shattered your Sunday morning, it is time to pause and see if your young ones are not trying a dangerous pose for a selfie to impress their peers.
A college girl who fell into the swirling Arabian Sea while clicking a selfie off a rocky part of the Mumbai beach and a youth who plunged into the water to save her on Saturday were both swept away, police said. And in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district, an attempt to take a selfie atop a fort proved fatal for a youth as he fell backwards and died, police said.
“There have been cases where youngsters have put themselves at unnecessary risk to take that one good picture. It is crucial that you draw a line between habit and obsessive behaviour,” Dr Ashish Mittal, consultant psychiatry at Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurgaon, told IANS.
In November, a 14-year old schoolboy, who was trying to take a selfie on his cellphone atop a stationary train wagon, was electrocuted and died in Mumbai.
“Parents should intervene as it is no more a laughing matter. Their ‘selfie crazy’ children may require expert help. Else, they may put their lives at risk for a mere picture,” he added.
The craze for a perfect selfie shot has taken many young lives globally in the past year. In neighbouring Pakistan, a 22-year-old man was killed while trying to take a selfie in front of a moving train in Rawalpindi city in December. In the same month, two teenagers were killed in Turkey after they lay on the middle of a road to try for a selfie with a plane in the background. In another tragic instance, a 17-year-old schoolboy fell from the roof of a nine-storey building while trying to click an “extreme selfie” in Russia in September last year.
“Not only in India but worldwide, people should be careful for taking selfies in dangerous situations. The habit needs to be discouraged,” added Dr (Brig) S. Sudarsanan, senior consultant (Psychiatrist), at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in the capital.
Ironically, clicking a selfie proved to be more lethal than getting mauled by a shark in 2015. There were at least 12 selfie-related deaths globally while only eight people died in shark attacks in 2015, tech website Mashable reported.
Alarmed by the growing number of selfie deaths, Russian police recently started a campaign called “Safe Selfies” – to guide how to be responsible selfie-takers. According to Dr Samir Parikh, director (mental health and behavioral science) at Fortis Hospitals in New Delhi, education and guidance are useful for any novel or upcoming phenomena like selfie and selfie sticks.
“Taking precautions while taking selfies can be beneficial in order to ensure more informed and responsible decisions associated with social learning,” Parikh told IANS. “We all are familiar with the craze of selfies, especially among youngsters. But if someone is taking a selfie in a dangerous situation like on a mountain or in the middle of the road, it can lead to fatal accidents,” noted Dr Mittal. “Also, if someone’s selfie is not liked by friends on social media, it can lead to further stress and frustration. This can turn into obsessive behavior if not taken seriously,” he emphasized.
According to experts, it is the right time to tame selfie obsession. “Do not succumb to peer pressure. Be smart enough to draw the line as at the end of the day, it is just a picture,” Dr Mittal advised. Consult an expert if needed. “Treat selfies only as a fun activity,” Dr Sudarsanan added.