Viki Odintcova
Russian model Viki Odintcova in her death defying stunt in Dubai Image Credit: Screengrab/ YouTube MAVRIN studios LIVE

Dubai: A 16-year-old youngster made a fatal selfie attempt here this week. The Afghan teen is believed to have been attempting to take a selfie when fate turned and she fell to her death from their 17th floor apartment in Dubai. Their apartment tower is a popular vantage point from where photographers and bloggers take pictures of the Burj Khalifa, residents told Gulf News.

The incident pushed the oft-visited topic back in to the discussion loop - selfies and the dangers of attempting to get the best selfie. 

Selfies, which have become a global sensation in the last decade or so, have remarkably killed five times more people than shark attacks. Between October 2011 and November 2017, at least 259 people died taking selfies around the globe, according to India's Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, compared to just 50 people killed by sharks in the same period.

And the death toll has crept up incrementally each year as smartphones become more sophisticated and selfie-sticks increase the range at which people can snap themselves, prompting them to take bigger risks for the perfect shot.

The highest number of incidents and selfie-deaths has been reported in India, according to the report, followed by Russia, United States, and Pakistan.

Drowning, falls, fires and automobile accidents form the topmost reasons for deaths caused by selfies.

What is the perfect shot?

Is there even such a thing as the 'perfect shot'?

With the rise in technological advancement and the ease in taking and sharing photos, 'perfect' is always changing. Instagram, the now most popular platform for sharing photos, also provides inspiration for the next 'perfect' shot. When 'perfect' or popular leans into dangerous is when selfies become 'kilfies'.

Statistically, most selfie deaths came as a result of a fall. This is based on documented reports going back to 2011.

More danger, more likes?

To get the perfect photo, people nowadays tend to do extraordinary things - from hanging off of buildings and walking through an active volcano to hanging out with dangerous species such as jellyfish or wild bears.

A prime example from right here in Dubai was the controversial photo shoot by Russian model and Instagrammer Viktoria Odintcova.

The 22-year-old model dangles from the edge of the building supported only by the hand grip of an assistant. Her team reportedly spent 40 minutes on the roof for the stunts - all captured in video and posted on YouTube.

Viki Odintcova Dubai
This screengrab is from the dangerous video shoot undertaken by Russian model Viki Odintcova and team in Dubai Image Credit: Screengrab/YouTube MAVRIN studios LIVE

The company that owns the 73-storey building featured, Cayan Tower, threatened legal action while the Dubai Police wanted the model to sign an undertaking to never repeat such dangerous acts in the emirate.

Keeping the criminal aspect of the incident on one side, the 'influencer' aspect is key here. The model with her death-defying photo shoot is part of a group of people attempting dangerous stunts for the impossibly perfect photo.

She was precariously balanced for most of her shoots with just an assistant holding her hand while his safety leverage was one of the pillars on the terrace. The video of her shoot has over 7.6 million views as of the date of this story.

All of this seems well and good when she survived it all, as did scores of others who successfully got a goose-bump inducing photo and survived to share it. The 16-year old teen in Dubai vying for a good photo from her dangerous perch did not survive her attempt.

Most recent selfie deaths around the world
Here's the list of the most recent selfie-related deaths around the world, by date, country, victims and nature:

October 26, 2019 | UAE | 1 | Fall — Sixteen-year-old Dubai girl falls to death from 17th floor of building on Shaikh Zayed Road while taking selfie.

October 7, 2019 | India | 4 | Fall — Wedding guests fall from a dam in India, four drown.

September 3, 2019 | India | 1 | Fall — Woman from Madhya Pradesh fell at least 200 feet to her death, while allegedly clicking a selfie on her way to a temple on a hilltop in Pavagadh hill station.

August 17, 2019 | Australia | 1 | Fall — A 27-year-old woman died after falling from cliff at one of Sydney's most popular selfie spots.

July 16, 2019: Pakistan | 2 | Drowned — A 17-year-old girl slipped while taking a selfie and fell into a river. Her father jumped into the river in an attempt to rescue her, but was also swept away by the flowing water.

July 15, 2019 | Pakistan | 1 | Fall — A college student fell into Kabul River in Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while taking a selfie.

July 14, 2019 | Italy | 1 | Fall — A 22-year-old man died after falling from a cliff with a waterfall.

July 4, 2019 | Spain | 2 | Fall — Two men aged 20 and 25 from Somerset, England died while reportedly taking a selfie on holiday in Spain. They were at Punta Prima Beach, near the town of Torrevieja.

March 9, 2019 | United States | 1 | — Animal — A woman was mauled by a jaguar in Arizona after entering a zoo enclosure to take a selfie. She received non-life-threatening injuries, including a large gash on her arm. Note: Although widely reported as a selfie incident, the victim claimed in a later CBS News interview that she was not taking a selfie, and did not enter the zoo enclosure — she only reached across a below-waist-height concrete planter in front of a much higher fenced enclosure — misleadingly termed "climbing" or "crossing" a barrier.

January 4, 2019 | Ireland | 1 | Fall — A young Indian man died after falling off the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare while taking a photo of himself.

November 12, 2018 | Sri Lanka | 1 | Fall — A German tourist died after stumbling off a cliff in Sri Lanka while taking a photo of herself. The 35-year-old woman was taking pictures with her friend when she fell off the World's End, a sheer cliff about 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) high. The Sri Lankan army and volunteers recovered the body after a six-hour search involving air support and climbing. World's End is located in Horton Plains National Park in central Sri Lanka and is one of the Indian Ocean island's biggest tourist attractions.

October 12, 2018 | Panama | 1 | Fall — A Portuguese woman fell to her death while taking a selfie on the 27th floor balcony of a Panamanian residential building.

19 September 2018 | United States | 1 | Fall — A Californian woman fell to her death while taking selfies on the edge of a 200-foot cliff over Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. [198]

5 September 5, 2018 | United States | 1 | Fall | An Israeli teen fell to his death while trying to take a selfie at Yosemite National Park.

October 25, 2018 | United States | 2 | Fall — Fall An Indian couple fell to their deaths from Taft Point at Yosemite National Park.

July 22, 2018 | Australia | 1 | Fall — A 19-year-old man from West Haven, Utah fell at Cape Solander in Kurnell near Sydney, Australia.

June 12, 2018 | Portugal | 2 | Fall — On the Praia dos Pescadores, Ericeira, Portugal, an Australian couple fell to their deaths when they tried to take a selfie on a 30-meter-high (98 ft) wall.

June 11, 2018 | Indonesia | 1 — Fall A 46-year-old Chinese tourist died after falling into the sea while taking a selfie on a cliff at Devil's Tears on Nusa Lembongan, an island off the coast of Bali.

May 2, 2018 | India | 1 — Animal | In Nabarangpur, Odisha, India, a man tried to take a selfie with a wounded bear and was mauled to death.

April 22, 2018 | Brazil | 3 — Fall |In Castelo do Piauí, Piauí, Brazil A 22-year-old woman and two girls aged 16 and 15 fell from a height of 10 meters while taking a selfie on a bridge in Piauí, Northeast Brazil, when the platform on the side of the bridge collapsed. They suffered fractures.

April 30, 2018 | Brazil | 1 | Fall — At Corumbá Lake in Caldas Novas, Brazil, a 34-year-old man ended up drowning, after falling off a platform in an attempt to take a selfie.

April 20, 2018 | Greece | 1 | Fall — In Keratsini, Greece, a 16-year-old boy died after he fell from a height of 60 meters after climbing on a rock to take a selfie at a park.

March 2018 | United States | 5 | Drowned — Five passengers aboard a sightseeing helicopter (with doors off) drowned after a passenger allegedly tried to take a 'shoe selfie', leading to the passenger's safety tether getting caught in the emergency fuel shutoff lever. A shoe selfie is when the person's shoes can be seen while looking out of the open doorway of a helicopter.

February 9, 2018 | Thailand | 2 | Transport — A 24-year-old Thai woman died as a result of her injuries when a train hit her while attempting to take a photo with an outgoing train in the background near Samsen train station in Bangkok's Phaya Thai District. A man, believed to be a colleague of the victim, was knocked unconscious by the train, suffering a head injury and a broken arm.

January 24, 2018 | India | 1 | Transport — A 22-year-old Indian man was hit by a train while recording a selfie video very close to some train tracks. His selfie video captured the entire incident, showing the man being struck after brazenly ignoring the train's horn. The video released went viral. However, some media are reporting that it was a hoax and that the man is still alive with no injuries.

January 11, 2018 | Colombia | 1 | Fall — In Gámbita, Santander, Colombia, a 19-year-old girl fell while trying to take a selfie at "Manto de la Virgen" falls.

- Jay Hilotin, Web News Editor

No one is immune, not even a 'daredevil'

Wu Yongning, a martial arts-trained stuntman with a background in film, had come to be known as the 'Chinese rooftopper'. He dangled from skyscrapers, documenting each of his death-defying stunts to post on a social media platform in China called Huoshan. Yongning had hundreds of thousands of followers on the platform.

In 2017, the Chinese climber fell, plunging 62 storeys to his death. The worst part, in his attempt to film his stunt, people saw Yongning fall to his death. 

How to change the trend

Taking extreme, adventurous selfies is fun and exhilarating to watch. However, reasonable self-protection and awareness should be practiced and advertised by the people who take and share these kind of photos.

In India, many officials have already introduced selfie-exclusion zones or 'no selfie' zones in particulary dangerous areas.

Awareness is key to preventing such mishaps.