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Mumbai: It’s Time to End Deaths-by-Selfie

After a teenager died while taking a selfie last week, Mumbai established no-selfie zones to prevent future accidents.

In this photograph taken on June 15, 2015, young Indian students take a 'selfie' on Marine Drive promenade in Mumbai. Selfies have become a global phenomenon with users rarely missing an opportunity to snap a photo of themselves, whether it be in front of a world-famous landmark or simply at dinner with friends. While people may have enjoyed having their photo taken since self-portraits first appeared in 1839, the invention of smartphones with front-facing cameras is fuelling a different type of selfie in the 21st century. A Pew Research Center poll last year estimated that more than half of 18-33 year olds had taken their own portrait before sharing it on social networks online. The phenomenon has fuelled special technology to help users take the perfect shot, most notably the now-ubiquitous selfie stick.   AFP PHOTO/ Indranil MUKHERJEE        (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photograph taken on June 15, 2015, young Indian students take a 'selfie' on Marine Drive promenade in Mumbai. Selfies have become a global phenomenon with users rarely missing an opportunity to snap a photo of themselves, whether it be in front of a world-famous landmark or simply at dinner with friends. While people may have enjoyed having their photo taken since self-portraits first appeared in 1839, the invention of smartphones with front-facing cameras is fuelling a different type of selfie in the 21st century. A Pew Research Center poll last year estimated that more than half of 18-33 year olds had taken their own portrait before sharing it on social networks online. The phenomenon has fuelled special technology to help users take the perfect shot, most notably the now-ubiquitous selfie stick. AFP PHOTO/ Indranil MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

In the past year, people around the world have shot themselves in the head, been gored by bison, and electrocuted themselves while posing on train roofs — all in the name of taking selfies.

Officials in India have had enough after a 2015 that saw young adults attempting to take selfies, only to fall off a boat and drown, plunge to death from a mountaintop, or be run down by a speeding train. On Tuesday, Mumbai became the latest local government to protect people from themselves when it established no-selfie zones throughout the city.

The move came after an 18-year-old drowned last week while she and her friends attempted to photograph themselves at Bandra Fort, a seaside tourist attraction in India’s most populated city. A 35-year-old man also died while attempting to rescue the three young women when they fell in the water. A day later, despite much of the site being cordoned off, people reportedly continued to take selfies in the water nearby.

Signs declaring no-selfie zones will be posted at 16 sites, including several seaside forts and beaches, where local police will warn people not to attempt to photograph themselves. The Mumbai deputy police commissioner told reporters that he hopes the city will also install lifeguards at the sites.

Death-by-selfie has become a global phenomenon in recent years, prompting state agencies in various countries to encourage citizens not to take photos that could put themselves in danger.

Last July, Russian police released a selfie-safety pamphlet when the 2015 selfie-related accident toll climbed to 100 just halfway through the year.

And just two months ago, as a dangerous November storm bore down on Wales and southern England, the Environment Agency and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents issued a warning to British citizens not to risk their lives taking “storm selfies.”

Photo credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

Correction, Jan. 12, 2016: The person who was electrocuted while taking a selfie was posing on the roof of a parked train. An earlier version of this article said the person was riding atop the train.

Megan Alpert is a fellow at Foreign Policy. Her previous bylines have included The Guardian, Guernica Daily, and Earth Island Journal. @megan_alpert

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