Mumbai selfie
Young Indian students take a 'selfie' on Marine Drive promenade in Mumbai Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

The number of people who have died while attempting a "selfie" on their mobile has steadily soared from 15 in 2014 to 39 in 2015, and 73 in the first eight months of 2016 alone.

Altogether at least 127 people have died around the world in the last two years trying to take selfies – often in dangerous locations such as high buildings or in water. India accounts for over half of all selfie-related deaths.

Now Hemank Lamba, a PHD student at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, and a group of friends have analysed each recorded selfie death in an attempt to find out who is at risk and where. They are hoping to potentially develop an app which will warn risk-takers of the dangers.

The app can identify when the taker is in a risky location, such as the edge of a mountain or on train tracks, and send a warning. So far the app has analysed some 3,000 selfies and correctly identified dangers 70% of the time.

Lamba's study differentiated between photographs taken which showed the moment of death – such as a bomb attack or car crash – and those that would have been avoided if no-one had been taking a selfie. The study found that men are three times more likely to die than women, even though women take far more selfies.

The most at risk age group were people between 20 and 24, which accounted for 45 deaths. There were 41 deaths among under 20s and and 17 victims were aged 30 or more.

India had by far the greatest number of selfie deaths - or "killfies" as Lamba's team dubbed them in their study. Some 76 people died in India, including several who drowned in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai, prompting the police to declare 16 areas of the city "no selfie zones."

Pakistan came second with nine deaths and the US third with eight. In 2015 more people died taking selfies than from shark attacks.

The study also found the cause of death varied according to geographical location. In India a number of people died on or near train tracks, whereas in the US and Russia several died posing with weapons, which are easier to access in those countries.

The study also made a connection between the rising number of deaths and narcissism. "Since the advent of online social networks, people have developed an insatiable urge to be the most 'popular' in their community," the report noted. "In medicinal terms, this has been long compared to forms of narcissism and in relation to selfies, termed as Selfitis."