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Radio prank call nurse 'made two prior suicide attempts'

Posted by: Ben Doherty and Sarah Whyte for theage.com.au | 24 December, 2012 - 8:47 AM
Jacintha Saldanha

Jacinta Saldanha, the British-Indian nurse who was found dead in her lodgings after answering an Australian hoax phone call about the Duchess of Cambridge, had reportedly tried to kill herself twice before, and was suffering depression.

Ms Saldanha was the nurse on duty at London's King Edward VII Hospital who took a prank phone call from 2DayFM DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles inquiring about the duchess, Kate Middleton, hospitalised with acute morning sickness.

Ms Saldanha did not reveal any information about the duchess's condition, but transferred the call to her room where another nurse did.

The Indian-born nurse was found in her living quarters three days later. Suicide notes, allegedly written by the 46-year-old, said she felt ashamed of her role in the call, blamed the DJs for her death, and criticised hospital staff.

On Sunday, London police said Christian and Greig could be charged with attempting to obtain medical details by deception, and that further charges could be brought against the radio station if it was found to have broadcast the prank without the permission of the participants. London's Metropolitan Police said detectives had sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

On the same day, India's Deccan Herald newspaper reported that Ms Saldanha had been hospitalised after twice trying to commit suicide within the space of nine days, during a family holiday in India last December and January.

The first time she was taken to a private hospital in Mangalore after an overdose of pills. The second time she was taken to Father Muller Medical College Hospital in the same city with head injuries after apparently jumping from a building.

Deccan Herald said Ms Saldanha was diagnosed as suffering a ''depressive disorder''. She received psychiatric treatment in hospital and was prescribed anti-depressants.

Ms Saldanha's brother, Naveen Saldanha, confirmed his sister was hospitalised after a serious fall, but said that she never sought to discuss her health and life issues.

In Shirva, where Ms Saldanha was buried last week, family friends confirmed to Fairfax Media that she had been depressed.

''She had a history of depression, you can judge this from the pictures of her. Recent pictures show a different Jacintha,'' one family friend said.

For help or information call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114, or visit beyondblue.org.au

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Nothing in this vindicates Christian and Grieg. Furthermore nothing vindicates the hospital management. The prank was not funny.

    I have now listened to it many times, even prior to teh suicide. I didn't find it funny before or after. What I did find was extreme immaturity from two very amateurish radio comperes who are little more than wannabees. There later interviews were poor theater and insincere.

    It is now clear that Ms Saldanha had health issues but the DJs and management only served to push her over the edge.

    So Christian and Grieg whilst you may not have been the direct cause of the suicide, you have contributed to this suicide. This can be with your conscience until your respective graves.

    I suggest you get out of the broadcast business and get thee to a monastry and nunnery respectively. Shame on you.

    Ivan@kinnane Wednesday 26 December, 2012 - 7:53 PM
  • this story will not rate a mention on 'the times of India' website!

    rob puljic Wednesday 26 December, 2012 - 4:53 PM
  • Poor radio DJ's I have been disgusted from
    The start with how they are being blamed. I
    Of course there was more to it.. The English
    Have media have been terrible, just for stories
    They created to much horrible hype. I hope
    They DJ's feel a little bit better, knowing this
    COULD NOT be there fault.

    Jen Tuesday 25 December, 2012 - 1:48 PM
  • This news was kept very quiet until now. Why was it not mentioned when the World was baying for the blood of the two radio presenters? It strikes me
    that there is more to this story that we have not heard. For instance, why would she attempt suicide on holiday? Also the family did not appear to genuinely grieve. No tears evident, even from the 16 yo daughter which is not what one would expect.

    Barry Monday 24 December, 2012 - 10:24 PM
  • Knew there has to be other circumstances here, now I hope the bloody Pommy Press get off the DJs case.

    GIW Monday 24 December, 2012 - 5:04 PM
  • Can everyone now stop blaming the poor DJs. It was so obvious from the start that just forwarding a call is no reason to kill yourself and all the gullible people just attacked the DJs for nothing.
    Are these same people going to blame all the other people who came across her for the previous attempts at suicide?
    Are these DJs going to be able to live their lives now without fear? Hope so and also is the station still going to feel responsible and send this family half a million dollars?

    We as humans haven't progressed since the dark ages. We are more than ready to pick up our torches and pitchforks and go on a witch hunt.

    Peggy Monday 24 December, 2012 - 3:52 PM

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