The Story Behind the Australian DJ Prank That Resulted in Suicide

I’ve always hated prank calls as radio bits. It’s cheap Bart Simpson-grade humour.  And while radio prank calls are almost as old as the medium itself, sometimes things go terribly, terribly wrong.  Here’s the full story of the Australian DJs who pulled a bad prank that resulted in someone dying.  

Speaking with the Queen of England on the telephone, even for a moment, is, by any measure, an out-of-the-ordinary experience. But Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old nurse at King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London, didn’t mention her brief conservation with Her Majesty to her husband Benedict Barboza on Tuesday, Dec. 4, last year. 

Barboza and their children — Junal, 17, and Lisha, 14 — lived 118 miles away in Bristol. Along with the hospital’s reputation of caring for upper-class British citizens came a higher income than Saldanha previously earned at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, which in turn allowed the family to live in comfort while they paid their mortgage. Saldanha’s life consisted of staying at nurses’ quarters during the week and savoring weekends at home.

The nurse spoke to her family again on Wednesday and made cryptic reference to the fact that they should watch the news on television. But she didn’t call at all on Thursday. Concerned, Barboza called the hospital soon after 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, and asked a colleague to check on his wife. What they discovered in her room was a lifeless body with cut wrists, hung by a scarf tied to a wardrobe.

Three suicide notes were found: two at the scene, one among Saldanha’s belongings. The first note was addressed to her employers, and reportedly contained criticism of hospital staff. The second asked that she be buried in her hometown of Shirva, Udupi, India.

The final handwritten note read: “I hold the Radio Australians Mel Greig and Michael Christian responsible for this act. Please make them pay my mortgage. I am sorry. Jacintha.”

Continue reading at Buzzfeed.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “The Story Behind the Australian DJ Prank That Resulted in Suicide

  • August 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    I hate this pranking crap. It's usually stupid and mean spirited. If you have heard what passes for comedy, something called "Crank Yankers", you'll know what I mean. I despise the "comedians" who participate in this garbage. Having worked in stores, behind the counter and answering the phone, I can tell you that you have to deal with some of the worst tempered people imaginable, all while trying to do your job. The last thing you need is some idiot wasting your time at work, getting you into trouble, and actually stopping you from getting something important done. Committing suicide seems extreme, but I do think the prankers should pay. Maybe it'll help put a stop to this idiocy.


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