Sunday, 9 December 2012

Nurses suicide after Sydney prank call

Only heard about this yesterday, the case of a radio station in Sydney prank calling the hospital where Kate Middleton was being looked after (very bad morning sickness). The call was put through and they were given private medical information about her, which was broadcast in Australia I assume across the Austereo network. Needless to say the two nurses involved were humiliated at what happened. Sadly one of them has taken her own life, nurse Jacintha Saldanha, being found dead in her home.

The English media has been going bananas with this, as have people around the world. The radio hosts are being accused of having "blood on their hands", and closed their Twitter accounts after getting online death threats from across the globe. I'd go so far as to say the media is in a feeding frenzy over this now, latching on to any bit of new information that might also feed the outrage and moral judgement being directed at these people. Sort of a virtual stoning.

OK people across the globe, can we all just take a deep breath here? Take a bit of a step back and have a logical look at this?

Just to start, a note that I do know quite a bit about suicide. I very nearly did it myself in 2009 and it's taken years of therapy and drugs to move on from it. I've also had a close friend kill themselves in 2009. Suicide is about not being able to deal with pain and seeing no other way out to stop that pain. In short, I know what I'm talking about.

I'm not going to conjecture about nurse Saldanha as I know nothing about her (as did the Sydney radio hosts). However in my experience, suicide isn't something that you do over just one event. It's considered over a period of time, maybe talked about with people. Those who do it often are very peaceful leading up to the act itself as they've made their decision. Nobody wants to die, it's just that sometimes they see no other way out. 

So my question is to the self righteous in England, what was her story leading up to this event at the hospital? Did anyone notice any of the warning signs? Did any friends encourage her to seek counselling as they were worried? But mostly, if she was suicidal in the first place, why did the system over there fail her? And yes the system can fail anywhere, I was glad though to get the help/intervention when I needed it. So people across the globe, perhaps think about that before crucifying the Sydney hosts?

The Sydney hosts were just that, from Sydney, clear across the other side of the world. Are we expected to believe that one crank call from that far away caused this woman's suicide? Or would it be more likely that her own circumstances or mental health issues had much more of an impact? I would expect it'd be the later. I'm not defending the hosts, just saying FFS get a grip people.

As for the crank call itself, well yes it was very bad that some of Kate Middleton's private medical details were released over the phone like that. Is that the fault of the Sydney hosts or the security measures for the Royals?
But according to Princess Diana’s former bodyguard Ken Wharfe, if established protocol had been followed, the DJs would never have got through to Kate’s ward.

Mr Wharfe said: “When I was protecting Diana, the first thing we did when we arrived at a hotel or anywhere else was to isolate the switchboard.

“You tell the staff to put any calls through to the detective there. The royals never ring in to hospitals.

"If anyone needed to speak to Kate they would ring the officer outside her room. All this should have been explained to hospital staff but clearly it wasn’t.

"The procedures that should have been followed have been around for years.” more
OK, there's no doubt this is a tragedy. But it's a bit rich to blame a couple of eager young radio people for the death of someone across the globe. Radio stunts and crank calls have been around for ages, they were just doing what they thought was their job. The call didn't even go to air live, but was approved by management and the stations legal team before. And let's face it, the Royals are rather a bloody clown show (I dunno why Australia hasn't become a Republic yet) and they deserve being made the joke they are.

Anyway, the Sydney hosts themselves are reportedly utterly devastated. I do hope they get the counseling they need and don't carry around needless guilt about the whole thing. There's even been comments made by Beyond Blue with Jeff Kennett saying in the news here: 
Mr Kennett, the chairman of the national depression initiative beyondblue, said on Saturday he hoped the Australian public would support the two radio hosts involved in the prank.

"When they did this they had no intention to cause harm, it was a harmless prank.

"Now they will be under extraordinary pressure and I just hope that they get our support and that their employer provides them with the professional support to help them get through what will be a terrible few weeks," Mr Kennett told ABC radio.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell told reporters the two radio hosts must be feeling "terrible".

"I don't imagine in any way that those who were engaged in the typical FM radio stunt would have thought it would lead to this". more
And the radio station itself is pretty much saying what I am, like come on people, get a fuckin grip man.  
"I spoke to both presenters early this morning, and it's fair to say they are completely shattered," he said. 

"Our concern is for their welfare." 

"These people aren't machines, they're human beings." 

Mr Holleran said counselling would be available for the pair as critics worldwide call for their dismissal. 

He said Southern Cross Austereo was satisfied they had not broken any laws and stated that no-one could have reasonably foreseen what happened. 

"I think prank calls as a craft in radio have been going for decades and decades and are not just part of one radio station or network or country," Mr Holleran said. 

"No-one could have reasonably foreseen what ended up being an incredibly tragic day." more

Peter FitzSimons in the SMH.
But to all those - particularly the British media - who are firing vicious epithets at the two radio DJs who are the public face of that prank call, blaming them for the tragedy, please get a grip.

What, precisely, are they guilty of?

Making a prank call? Which DJ in the history of the world hasn't made prank calls? It is part of the genre, a practice beloved through the generations and around the world, including all over Britain.

Was there malice in this call, then? Please point it out. Please show us a shred of evidence that anywhere in the process of putting the call through, there might have been a mite of malice that it would genuinely hurt someone? Read more
Update 2:
Leading psychiatrist Patrick McGorry called for calm, saying suicide was unlikely to be caused by one individual factor.

"I feel sorry for them because they obviously had no intention of causing any harm. Blame is hardly ever useful," he said. Read more