People in India are literally killing themselves in the pursuit for the perfect selfies, and the government is now taking concrete steps to reverse the disturbing trend.
“This is a new problem for us,” police spokesman Dhananjay Kulkarni recently told CNN. “We have identified spots in Mumbai. We want to restrain people from going there so that mishaps don’t happen.”
Indeed, India’s biggest city, Mumbai, recently designated 16 of the most dangerous sites in the city to be off-limits for selfies. The Mumbai police are taking the step in hopes it will curtail unnecessary deaths.
“We have deployed our policeman in those areas and we are asking the [city council] to put up warning signs,” Kulkarni added. “We are also requesting them to deploy lifeguards in the area to save people.”
India is one of the most populated countries in the world with over 1 billion people, and due to the huge population, it is also the world’s fastest growing market for smartphones.
Due to the popularity of selfies, an increasing number of people have risked their lives to get the perfect shot, most likely to garner as much attention as possible on social media sites.
According to data from Priceonomics it indicates that out of 49 selfie-related deaths since 2014, 19 have occurred in the country of India. That means 40 percent of all selfie-related deaths have occurred in India.
There have been several tragic deaths in just the last month attributed to selfies. An 18-year-old college student fell into a dam and drowned earlier this month in the city of Nashik. The young man was at a class picnic, and he was trying to take a selfie while balancing on top of a rock located near the dam. He ended up losing his balance and his life along with a classmate who also died trying to save this boy’s life.
Another incident occurred in January involving three young women and a man at Mumbai’s Bandstand Fort, a popular tourist attraction.
“The three girls were standing on the rocks in the sea and taking pictures and selfies,” an officer with the Bandra police explained. “A sudden wave caused them to lose their balance.”
An unrelated man, Ramesh Walunj, 35, was on the way to work when he saw the girls fall into the water. According to witness reports, the man immediately jumped in the water to help rescue the girls. Walunj was able to rescue two of the young girls, Anjum Khan, 19, and Masturi Khan. But another girl, 18-year-old Tarannum Ansari, was left in the water.
Walunj jumped back into the sea in a bid to save Ansari, and that was the last time he was ever seen. Both Walunj and Ansari perished that day because three young girls wanted to take a selfie.
These are just a few of the deaths that spurred local police to mandate that certain areas be off-limits for selfies. The most dangerous areas included coastal sites that have no railings or barriers. There are now signs telling people not to take selfies. If people take selfies or are even caught in a no-selfie zones, they risk being fined 1200 rupees, which is approximately $24 USD.
Police official Dhananjay Kulkarni told News.com.au that Ansari’s death spurred the city’s police to conduct a survey to identify dangerous locations, and officials now plan to organize an awareness campaign.
Despite the warning signs, some people were again taking selfies in the same area where Ansari and Walunj had drowned just two days earlier.
“When you are traveling alone, and do not have anyone to take your pictures, then it’s only selfie,” said Murtuza Rangwala, a student in Mumbai.
A Mumbai psychologist, Keerti Sachdeva, doesn’t expect the constant pursuit of selfies to end any time soon. She contends that people take these types of selfies due to a need for acceptance and love.
“You know people have this sort of feeling in adolescent age, especially that they need to get this acceptance from everyone, that I am a smart person, I am a good-looking person,” Sachdeva explained. “So for acceptance and recognition they are indulging in taking of selfies.”