Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse at Kate Middleton‘s hospital who was victim of a prank call from Australian radio hosts earlier this week, was found dead today in an apparent suicide. The story is a tragic sign of how damaging British tabloids (and really, any tabloids) can be–and not just to celebrities.
If you haven’t heard the story, radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian from 2Day FM in Australia called Kate Middleton’s hospital pretending to be Prince Charles and the Queen. Jacintha answered the call because no receptionist was available, and put the call through to one of Kate’s bedside nurses, who revealed details about her health. Although the Australian radio station apologized for inconveniences they might have caused the hospital, they continued to play the recording this week.
The Scotland Yard responded to reports of an unconscious woman in central London this morning at 9:35 a.m., but were unable to revive her. They later confirmed that it was the nurse involved in the hoax, and reported her death to her husband, family, and two children.
The Palace spokesman said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are “deeply saddened,” according to the Daily Mail, adding in a statement:
Their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time.
When asked if they felt any responsibility for the nurse’s death, he said on the contrary, Prince William and Catherine had been supportive of the hospital in the wake of the radio hoax:
On the contrary we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times.
The story is an appalling reminder of how seriously tabloids can warp the lives of people involved, especially when they aren’t celebrities with teams of publicists and advisors to prepare them for cruel headlines and sudden invasions of their personal lives. Saldanha’s death is most tragic for her family and friends, but it also casts a dark shadow over Kate Middleton’s pregnancy–which is likely to only get more intense as it goes on.
Photo: DLM Press, PacificCoastNews.com