Nurse involved in Duchess hospital call hoax found dead (Update)

This is just awful.

BBC News – Duchess of Cambridge hoax call nurse found dead.

A nurse at London’s King Edward VII hospital who took a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge has been found dead. The hospital, which has paid tribute to “a first class nurse”, named the woman as Jacintha Saldanha. Police were called at 09:35 GMT to reports of a woman found unconscious at an address in central London. BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood Mrs Saldanha was the person who answered the call from the Australian DJs and was not the nurse who discussed the duchess’s medical condition.

I had heard the call and had mixed feelings about it. For one, it wasn’t funny. I’m not a fan of ridiculous DJs pulling stunts. On the other hand, it was clearly a hoax. This poor woman may not have known HOW to respond to such a thing and was confused. She made an honest mistake.

Hoaxes can be devastating to the person who is on the receiving end. We don’t know what she died from but speculation is it is connected with this recent event that must have been tremendously stressful on her.

Lesson? Your actions have unintended consequences.


From the BBC:

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood Mrs Saldanha – who was staying in hospital accommodation close to King Edward VII hospital – was the person who answered the call from the Australian DJs and was not the nurse who discussed the duchess’s medical condition.

Mrs Saldanha, a duty nurse who was married with two children, answered the telephone because it was 05:30 GMT and there was no receptionist on duty.

The BBC understands Mrs Saldanha had not been suspended or disciplined by the hospital.

The BBC’s Nicholas Witchell said it had been suggested to him that she had felt “very lonely and confused” as a result of what had happened.

The Palace expressed their condolences and said they did not complain to the hospital. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has received complaints about the call and the hospital has suggested that laws may have broken.

The death is not being treated as suspicious.

The DJs have been deluged with negative comments from the public and have been taken off the air. More on the radio station involved that been in trouble before:

The Sydney radio station that made a hoax call to the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge – three days before the nurse who took the call apparently killed herself – has frequently attracted controversy.

While the call purporting to be from the Queen and Prince Charles was made by presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, in August 2009, Kyle Sandilands, a shock jock on 2Day FM, sparked a public backlash following a lie-detector stunt in which a 14-year-old girl revealed she had been raped.

  14 comments for “Nurse involved in Duchess hospital call hoax found dead (Update)

  1. Wesley
    December 7, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    Even if her death was connected to stress brought on by the recent hoax, the Australian DJs are in no way culpable.

  2. Mr. Shreck
    December 7, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    That is an excellent lesson to learn and there’s plenty of blame for unintended consequence to go around. These hoaxers were rude to be sure, but the problem was only compounded by the 24-hour news feeding frenzy on the story, and that’s here in the US. I can’t imagine what it was like in the UK.

  3. D. Walker
    December 7, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    How sad. I didn’t think it was funny either. I hope she didn’t commit suicide.

  4. spookyparadigm
    December 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I have never understood the purpose of morning DJ shows. Do we really need a make-work program for sociopaths?

  5. December 7, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    That is the suspected cause.

    The DJs are not on air until further notice.

  6. Phil
    December 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Really? Being held up to national and international humiliation had nothing to do with it? Nothing? Perhaps you mean the DJs were only slightly culpable.

  7. Wesley
    December 7, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    All I am saying is that they are not legally culpable, and although likely, it’s too early to say that her suicide can necessarily be attributed to the hoax.

  8. Mr. Shreck
    December 7, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    I would prefer not to comment here out of respect for the victim, but the outrage is getting a little thick for my taste.

    “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” — H. L. Mencken

    This nurse is as much a casualty of archaic royalty worship as she is of a couple of jackass DJs. She was caught between a pompous tradition of authority figures that were historically considered anointed by God and a modern tradition of satire aimed at taking the wind from the sails of public figures. Also, those who rush to pile blame on the satirists are completely neglecting the possibility (I would say likelihood) that she was unstable to begin with and that this was just a precipitating event. Most of the people embarrassed by being pranked do not kill themselves, thankfully.

    “The right to ridicule is far more important to society than any right not to be ridiculed because one in my view represents openness – and the other represents oppression.” — Rowan Atkinson

    We should proceed very carefully when we engage in restrictions of speech, particularly political speech, which this as a takedown of the powerful very clearly is. I have to wonder if the defense in this group would be as vigorous if it was some new-ager or fundamentalist who killed themselves after being embarrassed by skeptics.

  9. Wesley
    December 7, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Also, where did I say it had nothing to do with it? Read what I actually wrote, and not what you think I wrote.

  10. spookyparadigm
    December 7, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    You assume it likely, without evidence, that this woman was unstable, and then you compare that non-fact with people who hold bizarre beliefs, and who (if they are being embarrassed by a skeptic) are likely purveyors of these beliefs to other people as an authority figure of some sort. To defend a radio station that was proud of this prank call, and has previous citations for, amongst other things, hooking a 14 year old girl up to a lie detector that ended up with her admitting on air, under pressure from her mother (lord knows what’s up there), that she had been raped when she was 12 (this is mentioned in various of the news stories about the most recent “prank”). Okeelee dokelee.

  11. December 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    We don’t know NEARLY any of the facts. As I suggested, she was confused so did the hospital not train her in handling this type of request. Was she already under life stress or depressed? There are TONS of these hoaxes all the time and people don’t kill themselves. But we do see kids commit suicide from bullying or they become so troubled that they can’t see a way out of their situation. I can’t imagine what this was like for her.

    There are many factors at play here but people should be aware of what their actions may lead to. Did the DJs think she was going to get in trouble? Who knows but they were lying and KNEW they had to make an end run around the rules to get the outcome they wished. So, it’s a little more than free speech in this case.

    It’s a mess and tragic.

  12. Mr. Shreck
    December 7, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    I assumed it likely based on my (definitely lay) knowledge of human psychology only that people who are in otherwise sound shape don’t commit suicide as a response to being prank called once. It doesn’t seem to me any more presumptuous than the opposite assumption that she was perfectly fine until this happened, which seemed to be the default. I tried to carefully cast that in context of the psychological stress of being a citizen of a country with a royal tradition and suggest that the tradition of revering royals might also be part of the problem.

    As for defending the station, it is not popular or uncontroversial ideas that need defense. I don’t listen to “morning radio” and I am certain I would not like these people if I listened to them. That is not the same as thinking they should not be permitted to do what they do. Admittedly no one here actively encouraged censorship, but censorship often begins with outrage and I tend to go on the defensive quickly on that topic. It’s a personal fault, I know.

    I’m not sure I understand this sentence

    “you compare that non-fact with people who hold bizarre beliefs, and who (if they are being embarrassed by a skeptic) are likely purveyors of these beliefs to other people as an authority figure of some sort”

    but I think you are referring to my snide closing remark. I apologize for that. It was unfair.

  13. Mr. Shreck
    December 7, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Agreed. It’s extremely complex all around. I don’t equate these people with “serious” journalists who might go on an undercover mission to document some kind of bad actions for example, but only to claim that we should be careful about deciding who deserves to have their speech protected. If we start limiting what people can say because someone might take it wrong, things can get pretty slippery.

  14. Leper
    December 7, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    Do we really need a make-work program for sociopaths?
    It’s probably better than giving them real work that actually affects people’s lives.

Comments are closed.