After Spate of Recent Photo-Related Deaths, Russia Launches “Selfie Safety” Program

Here at Shutterbug we like to keep an eye on the selfie photography phenomenon in all its wacky strangeness. We’ve reported on everything from Olivia Muus’ spoof of famous museum portraits taking selfies to the hilarious, faux PSA warning of selfie stick abuse.

But there’s also a dark side to the selfie photo craze.

All jokes aside, there has been an alarming growth in the number of selfie-related tragedies. And, for some reason, Russia seems to be a focal point for this problem with police there reporting that high-risk poses have resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries this year alone.

They cite some recent occurrences such as the Moscow secretary who found a security guard’s 9mm in her office building and thought it would make great selfie to send friends. She pointed the gun at her head, tripped the shutter and unfortunately the trigger too. She was lucky; she survived.

Two young men in the Urals were not so lucky. They found a live grenade and took a selfie of themselves pulling its pin. They were blown to bits but the iPhone and photo survived. In another part of Russia, a teenager died while climbing on a railway bridge to take a selfie and accidentally came into contact with live electrical wires.

These tragedies are in no way limited to Russia. In America a young woman taking a selfie with a high-speed train as a background was hit by the train and killed. And in Bali a young man perched on a cliff for a great selfie stepped a bit too far and fell to his death.

In an attempt to reduce the selfie carnage in Russia, the Interior Ministry has published a pamphlet, a video and established a website providing the public with selfie safety tips. Their goal is not to eliminate selfie photography but to urge people to be more careful and to think about safety when they take them.

“Unfortunately we have noted recently that the number of accidents caused by lovers of self-photography is constantly increasing,” said Yelena Alexeyeva, an aide to the interior minister. She added that the phenomenon had also led to “dozens of deadly accidents. The problem really exists and leads to very unfortunate consequences.”

This Russian public safety program deserves our attention too. As responsible photographers Shutterbug readers can help by remembering safety whenever we take selfies and by speaking to their friends about safety, pointing out that it is not a joke.

Caught up in the fun and excitement of shooting selfies, it’s easy to forget where you are and what’s going on around you. And particularly for an adrenalin addicted generation brought up on MTV’s Jackass, the Interior Minister’s warning rings very true: “That cool selfie can cost you your life.”

(Via The Guardian)