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The Danger In The Fun Of Taking Selfies


Photographing yourself with a smartphone seems harmless. But a man in Washington state died February 28 after accidentally shooting himself in the face while posing with a gun. And at least 49 others here and abroad have died from selfie-related accidents.

Shelli Stephens-Stidham,  Director of the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas at Parkland Health & Hospital System, discusses some possible reasons.

Highlights from Stidham’s interview:

Profile of selfie deaths/accident victims: "Most of these injuries or deaths are occurring among young people. These are people who have grown up documenting their lives and things like that. The other things is that we see more males. That’s not unusual. We see more males injured or dying because they are more likely to participate in risky behavior. Our younger people have grown up with the advent of digital communications and its nothing for them to want to document different things."

Documenting selfie deaths/accidents: "It’s probably been underreported. As time goes on and we continue to see more deaths as a result of this, then the report forms will probably change. Already in different countries, we’re seeing Russia has implemented a public awareness campaign where they’re actually putting up signs that said 'No Selfies' and in India, they have 'No Selfie' zones to discourage people from trying to take selfies while hanging from a bridge or jumping across a train track. There are a lot of (U.S.) cities that are developing public awareness campaigns, not necessarily at the people who are taking selfies, but the distracted pedestrians or the distracted bicyclists. Philadelphia’s engaged in a public awareness. They’re putting up signs that say 'Look up, don’t look down.' We’re starting to see a thousand people who are injured because they are distracted pedestrians. We’re just starting to become aware of these emerging issues (deaths by selfies). 49 people documented since 2014. And we have over in the U.S. alone over 3,000 people die as a result of distracted driving while talking on their cell phones. We’re starting to see a thousand people here being injured because they’re distracted pedestrians."

For more information:

Cops: Couple's selfie session with gun takes deadly turn

CNN: How selfie-related deaths happen 

2015: The Year of Dangerous Selfies

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.