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Selfies are now commonplace – but selfie-related deaths are on the rise Damir Sagolj/Reuters

The latest in a mounting list of selfie-related deaths, a 43-year-old man in Washington, US, has died after accidentally shooting himself in the head while taking selfies holding a gun he thought was unloaded. According to the Skagit Valley Herald, the man and his girlfriend were photographing themselves at the time of the incident.

Police officer Chad Clark from the Skagit County Sheriff's Office said the girlfriend initially reported the pair had been posing for photographs with the loaded weapons "several times during the day", with the man removing and reloading the weapon multiple times. Thinking the gun chamber was empty the man pulled the trigger while the gun was aimed at his head. With one bullet left in the weapon, the move resulted in his death.

safe selfie
A guide to taking safer selfies was recently issued by police in RussiaRussian Interior Ministry

Law enforcement investigating the fatality confirmed it is being treated as an accident.

The shocking incident comes amid a spike in deaths resulting from selfie-related negligence. Indeed, this is not even the first example of a death resulting from a posed photograph with a loaded weapon. According to Priceonomics, there have been four deaths related to guns and selfies in the past two years alone.

The Priceonomics research trawled through three years of news archives to find every death related to selfie taking. While the team acknowledges that its research is by no means a scientific-based study, the findings were still shocking: the analysis showed that since 2014, 49 people have died while attempting to photograph themselves, the average age of the victims is 21 years old and 75% of them were male.

In recent tragic examples, a 20-year-old student fell to his death at a luxury hotel in New York while trying to get a photo from a high position, a Japanese tourist died after falling while taking a selfie at India's Taj Mahal monument and a teenager in Texas killed himself while posing with a loaded weapon.

Meanwhile, last year it was revealed that more people had accidentally killed themselves while taking selfies than had been killed by sharks. "Through the end of 2015, there were six confirmed shark-related deaths. In those same twelve months, the number of selfie-related deaths reached at least 10. And those are just the ones easily tracked," reported the Conde Nast Traveller. "So, yes, sharks are scary. But the selfie stick is your real enemy. Beware."