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Selfie-obsessed: teen attempts suicide over 'perfect' selfie

Selfie-obsessed: Danny Bowman selfies on Daybreak TV.

Selfie-obsessed: Danny Bowman selfies on Daybreak TV.

At the beach over the weekend, I sat and watched, half bemused, half concerned, as a shredded young thing stood on the rocks, waves crashing precariously around him, trying to take the perfect selfie.

Several times he was nearly overwhelmed by the waves, but he was oblivious, concerned only with the how the light and camera-angle were capturing his flexed abs, his casually (read meticulously) slicked-back hair and smouldering expression.

Selfies can be dangerous. In more ways than one, it turns out.

Danny Bowman appearing this week on Daybreak TV.

Danny Bowman appearing this week on Daybreak TV.

Not only is there a rise in idiotically hazardous #drivingselfies, but for some the selfie-obsession has gone into overdrive.

One British teen tried to kill himself after becoming obsessed with taking the "perfect" selfie.

Daniel Bowman 19, told the Mirror this week that he spent up to 10 hours a day taking snaps of himself on his iPhone.

In his pursuit of the perfect picture, he also lost around 12 kilograms, dropped out of school and became aggressive towards his parents when they tried to confiscate his phone.

“I was constantly in search of taking the perfect selfie and when I realised I couldn't I wanted to die," he said of his eventual suicide attempt, thwarted by his mum.

"I lost my friends, my education, my health and almost my life,” he said. “The only thing I cared about was having my phone with me so I could satisfy the urge to capture a picture of myself at any time of the day."

Daniel, who began posting selfies at the age of 15, hooked his confidence on the comments and "likes" his selfies elicited.

“People would comment on them, but children can be cruel," said the aspiring model. "One told me my nose was too big for my face and another picked on my skin. I started taking more and more to try to get the approval of my friends.

“I would be so high when someone wrote something nice but gutted when they wrote something unkind.”

A trip to a casting agency sent his obsession with his appearance into a spiral. Rejected on the basis that his physique and skin were not up to scratch, Daniel said it sparked a two-year addiction.

“When I got home that night I stood in front of the mirror and took a photo of myself. I didn't like it so I took another. Then before I knew it I had taken about 30, discarding each one,” he told the paper.

“My alarm went off and I would take 10 pictures before I had washed. Then I would take another 10 after showering and another 10 after moisturising.

"I swiped through them on my phone. I would change the lighting and take another 10, or go into another room and take another 20.

"Then I would spend hours looking at them, scrutinising my features and skin. I took selfies in bed, in the bathroom, and all day into the early hours."

At the height of his obsession, he took 200 pictures of himself and eventually cracked in self-loathing

“I couldn't see any that I liked. I couldn't take any more and just started popping the pills.”

His mother found him and rushed him to hospital, where he remained to undergo treatment for technology addiction, OCD and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Daniel, who says he hasn't taken a selfie for seven months, realises that such an obsession seems "trivial" but believes it's surprisingly easy to slip into.

“People don't realise when they post a picture of themselves on Facebook or Twitter it can so quickly spiral out of control. It becomes a mission to get approval and it can destroy anyone," he said.

“It's a real problem like drugs, alcohol or gambling. I don't want anyone to go through what I've been through.”

Selfies have become so big, its frequency of use soaring 17,000 per cent in 12 months, that the Oxford English Dictionary named it word of the year in 2013.

It has established itself as the modern day way to mark a moment - President Obama was criticised for taking one at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, while even the Pope has gotten in on the act with the first "Papal selfie".

But, doctors are also warning that for those with low-self esteem, the selfie can be a slippery slope into obsession if self-worth becomes based on external validation through "likes".

In fact, the psychiatrist from the hospital where Daniel was treated said addiction to taking selfies has become so common it is now a recognised mental illness.

“Danny's case is particularly extreme,” Dr David Veal told the Mirror. “But this is a serious problem. It's not a vanity issue. It's a mental health one which has an extremely high suicide rate.”

For help or information call Lifeline, 131 114, or visit beyondblue.org.au.

74 comments

  • Everyone post Gen X are so painful...

    Commenter
    Dave
    Date and time
    March 27, 2014, 9:46AM
    • Everyone young post your own age is painful, it's always been this way and will always continue to be this way.

      Commenter
      NT
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 10:33AM
    • Except Gen X...... We gave you Nirvana.

      Youre Welcome.

      Commenter
      CV
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 12:18PM
    • @CV... by your rational.. you also gave us HIV. Thanks.

      Commenter
      AC
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 1:49PM
    • Gen X? what have they got to do with it?

      hes bang in the middle of gen Y, isnt he?

      @AC, the baby boomers gave us AIDS. the majority of Gen X-ers were too toung to have had sex when the AIDS epidemic really kicked off. in actual fact, Gen X grew up with the spectre of an uncurable AIDS being a death sentence, but without the 'free love' that their parents (baby boomers) enjoyed in the 70s and early 80s... and the Gen Y crew can now enjoy the fact that AIDS is no longer a death sentence.

      btw, learn to spell. its 'rationale'

      Commenter
      Dave
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 2:55PM
    • Hey Dave - before you comment on others spelling re-read your own post :)

      Commenter
      English teacher
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 3:13PM
    • @ Dave..

      If you're going to have a crack at spelling errors/typos best make sure you're infallible.
      Young, Incurable.

      Don't be that guy...

      Commenter
      AC
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 3:39PM
    • Oh really???? Everyone post Gen X has to listen to how you babyboomers THINK your s*** don't stink when YOU'RE the ones stuffing up the country ... YOU babyboomers have made the house market impossible to get into .. And remind me ... What gen is Abbott again??????

      Commenter
      Snezzle
      Location
      Newcastle
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 4:40PM
    • Ergh, OK. ALL of you are so self obsessed that you miss the point that this is a MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE. You are all ridiculously embarrassing. Look at yourselves. I cringe.

      Commenter
      Unbelievable
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 8:03PM
    • @ Snezzle

      Who are you incoherently ranting at? If they still taught comprehension in school, the only commenter you might suspect of being a baby boomer would be NT. And why would you be ranting at such a comment?

      For the rest, there is no written reason to assume any are BB. Your rush to express your ill founded opinion and misuse of ellipses proves my original point.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 9:25PM

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