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Snapping selfies can have pretty serious effects, like damaging art in the quest for likes. In Russia, though, death has become a troublingly common consequence of taking selfies. People are attempting to turn the lens on themselves in situations so extreme that the act has cost a number of them their lives. Troubled by the growing number of selfie-related injuries and casualties, the Russian Interior Ministry recently held a press conference during which it issued guides on how to take a “Safe Selfie.”
“When a person is trying to take a picture of himself, his attention is scattered, he loses balance, he does not look around, and does not feel in danger,” the Ministry’s website states in Russian. “Do a selfie, making sure that you are in a safe place and your life is not in danger!”
The government guide, aimed at young people, is an unintentionally hilarious visual aid that cautions against the desire to capture the most unique selfie. Red prohibition signs illustrate some of the real stunts Russians have pulled, as well as some truly inane, made-up ones, such as posing with a wild cat and hanging off a roof from a television antenna. Each is followed by a short warning, and the guide also includes summaries of the real-life casualties for emphasis.
One image shows a figure wielding a selfie stick as a train approaches; an ominous message accompanies it: “SELFIE on the rails — bad idea, if your life is valuable to you!” Beneath the icon, a few lines of text recount an incident in May when a student from the Ryazan region of western Russia was electrocuted while trying to take a selfie near a train track, fell off the bridge he was on, and died in the hospital. Another image of someone posing with a gun reads, “SELFIE with weapons kills!” and describes the recent death of a 21-year-old woman from Moscow who accidentally shot herself while trying to take a selfie holding a gun.
The subject matter is serious, but the captions are rather coy, avoiding explicit descriptions of the risks to instead suggest a range of painful demises. Some notable examples:
“SELFIE on the water — hard to keep your balance!”
“SELFIE on the roof of a building — it’s a long-distance fall!”
“SELFIE with animals is not always lovely!”
“SELFIE behind the wheel — can make your road a lot shorter!”
“SELFIE on the highway — may not have enough time to click the shutter!”
According to the press release, police will distribute the guide to citizens at public events and to students in safety classes. The Ministry has even created a page where you may submit your own cautionary selfie icon warning against other potentially dangerous situations. So go forth and selfie, but try to keep away from exposed wires and pumas.