When the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to the King Edward VII private hospital in London recently, with acute morning sickness due to her pregnancy, little did anyone know that her stay would lead to tragedy for someone else.
Two radio DJ's in Australia - from Sydney radio 2dayFM - thought they would play a 'harmless' prank on the hospital staff. They wondered how easy it would be to get through to Kate and speak with her, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles. Surprisingly, they got through to a nurse who was playing receptionst as it was early in the morning and the normal staff was away.
She took the call, did not recognise the awful accent posing as the Queen's, and passed it to the nurse tending to the Duchess, who then passed on private information to them about Kate's condition. Naturally, the hospital staff were livid when they realised it was a hoax call, but the damage had been done. It was splashed all over the papers, it was on all the main news with the recording of the nurse's voice, treating the fake voice as though it really was that of the Queen, with deference and due respect.
The nurse who took that call, Jacintha Saldana, must have winced every time she heard her voice beig replayed, completely taken in by the hoax, and must have felt extremely emarrassed by it. Perhaps it became unbearable for her because this morning, she was found dead from apparent suicide. This was an 'excellent, first class' nurse who had been at the hospital for four years, one they can ill afford to lose, yet she must have felt so terrible about being taken in that she felt the need to kill herself, leaving a husband and two children.
I hope the Australian DJs - Mel Greig and Michael Christian - are mighty proud of themselves. That was a selfish and irresponsible prank to make around something as serious as the Duchess' illness, without even taking the possible consequences into account.
But the hospital does not come out of it squeaky clean either, because it does not say a lot about the kind of support that nurse received afterwards if she felt so badly she had to take her life because of it. Furthermore, if the staff were duly protected through proper security, she would not have been exposed in that way.
RIP, Jacintha. You really didn't deserve that.
Guardian: Hoax call nurse found dead