It’s no secret that U.K.’s Prince William and wife are expecting their first child. For the past week, this news has flooded the airwaves in spite of the fact that Kate Middleton is less than 12 weeks pregnant. The media just couldn’t get enough of airing that story.
What no one expected was that thanks to the media hype, this news would have a twist of tragedy.
Middleton had been hospitalized for several days to be treated for dehydration due to a form of extreme “morning sickness” at London’s, King Edward VII Hospital.
During the time that the Duchess was there, two Australian D.J.’s, Mel Grieg and Michael Christian of 2DayFM, made a prank call to the hospital. In fake voices, imitating Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, were able to be put through to a nursing station where they received information from a nurse on Middleton’s floor.
Three days after that call, Jacintha Saldanha, the one who transferred the call to the nurse at the nursing station, was found dead at the age of 46. Her death has been presumed to have been a suicide through embarrassment over her part in transferring the call over, though the hospital claims that it did not blame nor, chastise her.
Both Grieg and Christian, the two D.J.s behind the prank call, have been taken off air “indefinitely” and are reportedly, receiving mental health counselling while several of the station’s advertisers have pulled their accounts and the station is playing looped music without D.J.s for the time being. It is reported that both D.J.s are under concern for both mental and, possibly physical harm after having received threats. They are in seclusion.
Saldanha was married with 2 teenaged children, daughter, Lisha 14 and son, Junal, 16. She and husband, Benedict Barboza, had married in 1993 in Shirva in South-West India then, moved the family to Bristol, England 9 years ago. Saldanha got a job at King Edward IV hospital in London and stayed in nurses quarters in the city, going home to Bristol on her days off.
It was Saldanha’s husband who quickly raised the alarm when she did not answer the phone in her quarters that day. Saldanha was found by attendants and was pronounced dead at the scene. An investigation into her death is being conducted by police but, foul play is not suspected.
While it’s been speculated widely that this was indeed a suicide, that has yet to be determined until the investigation has been completed.
Many questions will be raised from this tragic situation but, amongst the questions, are also the finger-pointing at who was to blame.
If in fact, this was a suicide, were the D.J.s and their prank call to blame or, were there underlying issues within this woman and her life that the prank call had brought out more clearly? Or, was it more of a culturally based and ingrained form of shame and embarrassment that was lurking beneath all along? Was Saldanha already depressed?
While there is no doubt that the D.J. prank call was an example of the media having gone too far, there is question as to whether they truly were to blame for this woman’s death.
For most of us, something like making a mistake that had no employer blame or firing and didn’t result in anything that the public didn’t already know getting out, it likely wouldn’t have led to taking our lives over it. For someone who may already have been somewhat depressed or perhaps, culturally trained into a learned “shame”, it might have led to that act.
First of all, one has to question whether the hospital “call-in” system has issues. How was either Saldanha or the nurse who actually gave out the information, to know if indeed it was the Queen or an imposter? When I have called hospitals to get updates on family member’s conditions during the night, I have been immediately directed to a nurse’s station whereupon, I have simply had to say that I’m inquiring about the patient’s condition. Even in circumstances where there have been instructions to not give out any information other than to certain family members, there would be no way that a nurse could have asked for proof of who anyone is at the other end. They, therefore, will only give out certain, vague information such as, “they are resting comfortably” or, “stable but, still in “x-condition”. The same held true in this situation so, no real harm was done.
Anyone could have called through to this hospital and done the same thing, without anyone ever having known who called. The only difference for these D.J.s was that it was aired and made public which therefore, allowed authorities to point fingers at who was behind the call.
The fact that anyone can make this type of call for any patient anywhere, unless strictly forbidden to give updates on a patient by phone, makes anyone and everyone’s status fair game. The only factor that made this a huge case was that this patient was a member of the Royal Family.
Sadly, a life had been lost. Whether or not this was truly a suicide and if it was, whether it was solely due to the crank call or other emotional and internal issues, may never be known by the public but, it’s more than likely that there’s more to this than a prank call as the sole cause. We may never know for sure.
There’s a lot of people suffering over a phone call. Sad but, true.