Selfie-related deaths at tourist sites are ‘public health problem’: researchers

NEWS: Selfie-related deaths at tourist sites are ‘public health problem’: researchers

Selfie-related injuries and deaths at tourist hotspots have become such a massive risk that they should be viewed as a “public health problem”, researchers suggest.

Of particular concern are selfie-related deaths at picturesque aquatic locations, such as waterfalls, according to the University of New South Wales, Australia study.

Part of the study examined how selfie-related injuries and deaths were reported in the media.

Four peer-reviewed studies identified falls from a height, such as a cliff or waterfall, as the most common incident.

Drowning was the second most common cause of death.

People often climbed over barriers and fenced-off areas to get to the perfect selfie spot, the report noted.

Falls from tall heights were found to be the most common selfie-related deaths.
Adobe Stock

The mean age of victims was about 22, most of whom were female tourists.

“The selfie-related incident phenomenon should be viewed as a public health problem that requires a public health risk communication response,” the report concluded.

“To date, little attention has been paid to averting selfie-related incidents through behaviour change methodologies or direct messaging to users, including through social media apps.”

Previous research recommended “no selfie zones”, barriers and signage as ways to prevent selfie-related injuries and deaths.

“Our results suggest this may not be enough and it may be prudent to also engage in direct safety messaging to social media users,” the report read.

“Media reporting of selfie incidents should focus on preventive messaging rather than blame or warning.”

Fernanda Morella
Fernanda Morella fell to her death while taking a sunset selfie in Australia in 2021.
Fernanda Morella /Facebook

Recent selfie deaths

Brazilian woman Fernanda Morella was celebrating her 33rd birthday when she fell to her death while taking a sunset selfie at the Kangaroo Point cliffs by the Brisbane River in July 2021.

British tourist Madalyn Davis, 21, fell to her death from a cliff at Diamond Bay Reserve, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, in January 2020.

Rosy Loomba, 38, was taking a photo at the Boroka Lookout – nicknamed “selfie rock” – at Victoria’s Grampians National Park when she fell to her death in December 2020.

Ms Loomba and her husband had been taking photos after climbing a fence, and other people were also there queuing for a photo.

An inquest into her death led Deputy State Coroner Jacqui Hawkins to recommend extra warning signs be installed at the lookout.

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