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I don't normally do this type of post but I'm making an exception here as I feel so strongly about it.

As we must all know by now, following a "prank" phone call from Australian radio station 2Day FM, the nurse who first received the call has been found dead in her hospital apartment.

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The public outcry and demonization of the DJ's concerned is something which sadly doesn't surprize me but it really just adds further misery to the overall awfulness of the situation.   The people to blame, in my opinion, are the programme editors, the legal team and those who TOOK the decision to air that call (which was pre-recorded) without gaining the hospital's consent.  They are now saying they tried to contact the hospital unsuccessfully, the hospital have released a statement saying NO ONE spoke to anyone in their administration or legal departments.  So it seems clear that consent was not gained as it should be.   However, that is not what concerns me for this article...

I am just fed up with the endless amounts of air-time given over to the radio station concerned, the two DJ's concerned, and to navel-gazing and hypocrisy of the British media who are universally saying "We would NEVER do such a thing" - how ironic that Lord Leveson himself was in Australia when this terrible event occurred.

This, however, is a tribute to Jess Saldanha, a woman who nursed me on several occasions when I was in hospital.  Her daughter, Lisha, posted a small status update on Facebook last week stating how devastated the family were and thanking people for their support - how much media coverage did that get?   A little, but nowhere near the amount of coverage given to the radio station itself.

Jacintha Saldanha was more commonly known as "Jess" and had worked at the King Edward VII (Sister Agnes) Hospital for around four years.  She came from Sorkala, near the town of Shirva in the south-west state of Karnataka but moved with her  husband Ben Bardoza and two children, Junal and Lisha,  about 9 years ago to Westbury-on-Trym in Bristol.

Jess, who was 46,  originally worked for the North Bristol NHS Trust for several years before applying for and gaining a job at the King Edward VII (Sister Agnes) Hospital in London where she lived during the week in hospital-provided accommodation.  Her son, Junal, is 16 and her daughter, Lisha, is just 14.   It was Lisha who posted the Facebook message last week and it read simply "I miss you. I loveee  you".  Her husband, Ben, who is 49, posted a message and invited others to contribute to a simple obituary page :

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It is perhaps easy for people to say that there must, clearly, have been many other problems in Jess's life to make her take such drastic action and suicide is never the result of one thing alone.  However, perhaps we should also bear in mind Naveen, her brother's, words when he said "She would have felt much shame about the incident" and remember that not everyone can throw difficulties off as easily as we might do.

Her mother-in-law, Carmine Barboza, said

"Jacintha was a very caring woman. She used to call us every Sunday without fail. We just cannot believe what has happened."
I can only speak of the woman I knew and I just wanted to say that when I was nursed by Jess, I found her to be a caring, kind and extremely diligent nurse who took her responsibilities extraordinarily seriously.    She always appeared to have just that little bit of extra time to spend with you even though I'm perfectly sure she was in reality very busy.    She never rushed anything, always approached things with great care and somehow gave off an air of reassurance to me which always made me feel as though I were in safe hands.   She had a quietly understated way with her which illustrated a deep personal commitment to her job and to her patients.  

In our weird, media-driven culture, I think it's sometimes very easy to forget that there are real people sitting at the end of a telephone line or a computer screen.  How many times have you seen someone say something quite dreadful on Twitter to another user, something which I very much doubt they'd EVER say in real life?  I know I  have seen this on countless occasions.  I've always held the belief that you should interact online just as you would in real life, try to bear in mind that you have no idea of the circumstances of the person at the other end of the computer screen and try to hold yourself to the same standards you set for yourself as you go about your everyday non-virtual life.

I watched the two DJ's being interviewed this morning and it made for painful viewing as I honestly don't believe they are the one's to blame in all of this.  If anyone is to blame, it is the programme editors, the programme controllers and the legal team of the radio station concerned.   The two young DJ's are not household names, they do not possess a great "say" in what gets broadcast and what doesn't, unlike some of the better known DJ's who make these prank calls.  They are broadcasting an overnight programme in Australia and, before last week, I doubt many of us had ever heard of them.   Yes, it was a very stupid prank, yes, they may well be moronic idiots for all I know, but NO, this is not their fault.   And the endless hateful messages directed towards them on multiple social networking sites are totally inappropriate in my opinion, and deeply offensive.

Jess Saldanha was one of the most caring and considerate nurse's I have ever been treated by and I'm perfectly sure she would not be supporting the witch-hunt against the two individuals.   There has been one tragedy and that tragedy has affected Jess's family more than anyone else of course, but it has rippled across the world a kind of tectonic plate of a shudder.  

Maybe we should ALL stop to think at times, about what we are doing in our lives and with our lives.   Maybe we should pause to wonder if that little, snipey comment we made to someone at work, was necessary or reasonable.  Just maybe, we should stop encouraging the media to push more and more boundaries for the sake or our "entertainment" - after all, if we all just switched off, they would change the way they produce programmes.  

These big companies and broadcasters aren't interested really in what's right or wrong, I should think the election coverage would have taught us that much, they are interested in viewing figures, or readers, or the proverbial bums on seats - not what's right or wrong about something.   That's OUR job.  And we should do it.

Ben Barboza has said that she will be laid to rest in Shirva, India.

RiP Jess, I will miss your gentleness very much.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    Bearing a grudge is like swallowing a poison and expecting someone else to die...

    by Maianewley on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:42:51 AM PST

  •  I don't see how this is anybody's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    fault. We humans enjoy pranking people. I guess whenever you pull a prank, there is always a slight chance that one of the victims will commit suicide. It is a horrific tragedy, and one can't help but wonder what this wife and mother was thinking to kill herself because she forwarded a crank call. But from the perspective of the pranksters, this seems to me to be a random event, not something that anybody could have predicted.

    •  Being made a mockery in front of millions of (6+ / 0-)

      is helluva alot more than being pranked. Stations in the u.s., australia, and the u.k. do it all the time. It was inevitable that one of these unsuspecting innocent people going about their business would react very badly to being made the butt of a joke to a whole city, a whole country or in this case the whole world. It was infinitely predictable that something like this would eventually happen.

      "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

      by voroki on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:18:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? Her name wasnt even part of this. (0+ / 0-)

        The public did not know who she was. And even if they did, this was a 1 or 2 day story and would have been forgotten very quickly. Normal people know that. Something was wrong with her, and there was no way the pranksters could have known that.

        •  No, but she knew. Imagine feeling that there (0+ / 0-)

          were thousands of strangers laughing at a mistake you made at work  even if they didn't know your name.  Imagine having papers all over the country, hell in this case all over the world, report on it, even if they don't use your name. Imagine setting next to someone on a bus and hearing a conversation "did you hear about that stupid nurse...."
          How would you feel?

          "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

          by voroki on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:21:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And also,they may not have known there was (0+ / 0-)

          something wrong with her, but there was always a possibility. When you choose to pick people at random and put them in such a situation there is ALWAYS that possibility. As for a "1 or 2 day story", this wasn't a celebrity. Having the whole country talking about one of your fuck ups for 1 or 2 days is no small thing.

          "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

          by voroki on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 05:48:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I totally agree with you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Our actions are good or bad or neutral or (as in this case) just plain silly based on upon reasonable expectations about their consequences, not wholly unpredictable, irrational outliers.  

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:39:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for adding your personal connection (6+ / 0-)

    to a story that is otherwise part of the UK royalty-fever.

    From what I've read, the royal family did NOT pressure the hospital or complain loudly about the slip -- at least I hope not. Their privacy gets compromised in so many ways (such as the nude photos of Kate), and this one seems quite minor. I'm sorry this nurse took the burden of that on herself.

  •  As usual, the British press' habitual overreaction (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, Maianewley, SilentBrook

    to anything involving the royal family made an international crisis out of a simple prank. Could that have played a factor in this tragedy?

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 06:57:12 AM PST

  •  I agree with most of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shari, Patate, SilentBrook

    that which you've all said.  I think there was a kind of need for me, within myself, to write this as I was nursed by her very, very recently and I genuinely really liked her.  Many of her patients do feel very distressed by the whole thing.

    Yes, I agree this is not a blame game but I really think it would serve us all well to remember that not everyone has the same standards or reactions as ourselves.  What is funny to one person, can be deeply shameful or distressing to another.  

    I suppose it just serves to highlight that fact really.

    Bearing a grudge is like swallowing a poison and expecting someone else to die...

    by Maianewley on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 07:44:30 AM PST

  •  This was never a simple prank. (3+ / 0-)

    It's easy in this tragedy to ignore what else might have happened. It's quite conceivable that the two nurses involved could have lost their jobs over it. The potential for injury to the victims was always there.

    Having said that, it's so nice to read about Mrs Saldanha the nurse and to know that she will be remembered for her kindness and caring.

  •  compassion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maianewley, SilentBrook

    is called for all around, especially for the family and friends of mrs. saldanha

    it sounds as though jacintha was an extraordinarily sensitive and caring person and she is sorely sorely missed

    thanks for the reminder


  •  Surely the DJs and radio station knew (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maianewley, SilentBrook

    when they decided to broadcast that the two nurses involved would suffer professionally for passing on private information about the future queen of England's health?

    This might have been a simple prank while the call was made but this did  not remain a simple prank after the call was recorded and broadcast without consent of those involved- it was abuse/violation of the two nurses and Kate Middleton, all.

  •  PS: And to those feeling bad for the DJs, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    get over it.  You will survive and so will they.

    They pranked the nurse, the nurse pranked them in return. She suffered shame and humiliation from the media and the world due to the radio station now the DJs are suffering shame and humiliation due to her. She was pranked into breaking her legal obligations to her patients, the DJs donot face any legal jeopardy for their actions towards her. She is dead, they are alive.  So why complain? They want to be in the right and her to be the wrong on top of all this?

    •  That's a deeply foolish and objectionable comment (4+ / 0-)

      It manages to show contempt for both the DJs and the nurse, which I suppose is an accomplishment of some sort. The nurse pranked them in return?

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:42:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm not sure it was intended that way.  I have no idea of the first language of the writer but I wondered if they had perhaps just worded it badly.  I understood the sentiment but agree it was tactlessly put.

        Bearing a grudge is like swallowing a poison and expecting someone else to die...

        by Maianewley on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:53:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I mean it to be objectionable (0+ / 0-)

        Every website discussion is about how the poor DJs are being made to suffer the consequences of the nurse's actions, as if there were no consequences for the nurse of the DJs' actions.  My message is in balance the DJs came off better than the nurse (and would have, even if she  lived), so get over it.

        •  I guess using your twisted logic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          the DJs could get back at her by killing themselves. Understand this - the DJs earn my sympathy because they have to live with the knowledge that a silly prank they pulled backfired and pushed a troubled woman over the edge. Her family has earned my sympathy as i sympathize with all families of suicide victims.

          •  The twisted logic is in insisting that (0+ / 0-)

            the woman was troubled and that the DJs and the whole idea of such pranking is normal.

             It is not normal to put people(in this case, the nurses and Kate Middleton) in harm's way for 'stupid pranks'. All this outrage shown projecting the DJs as victims not the nurses and Kate Middleton is not normal.

            •  Harm's way? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              A prank that exposed a person's predisposition to suicide put her in harm's way?

              •  'Pranking' a professional to break her legal (0+ / 0-)

                obligations to her patient is putting her in harm's way. Ms Saldanha realized the enormity of her error and it is twisted for everyone criticizing her not to realize it too.

                And is Kate Middleton not a normal human being with right to her privacy in illness? Why is it normal to treat her as no better than a zoo animal in a glass cage and broadcast to the world every time she vomits.

                •  Her error was a tiny bullshit error. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  No enormity whatsoever. She forwarded a telephone call, so obviously her life should end and her child should be motherless.

                  •  Not at all. There was no justification to kill (0+ / 0-)

                    herself. But putting her in legal jeopardy and out of favor of the NHS, the hospital and the royal family on count of breaking patient confidentiality was not a 'silly prank' and not normal.

                    The DJs and the radio station knew exactly what they were doing to her, to her co-worker and to Kate Middleton and minimizing their responsibility is just sick.

  •  I try to keep in mind (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maianewley, SilentBrook

    Wee Mama's sig line whenever I post:

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    "No one has the right to spend their life without being offended." Philip Pullman

    by zaynabou on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 11:44:58 AM PST

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