• Prank call leads to suicide

    Date: 12.14.12 | by Judge Tom.

    Before you make that next prank call, consider the following unexpected consequence that the callers must now live with for the rest of their lives.

    In December, 2012, Duchess Kate was admitted to a hospital in London for acute morning sickness. It had recently been announced that Kate and Prince William are expecting their first child. The child will be third in line to succeed as King or Queen of England.

    Two Australian disk jockeys placed a call to the hospital hoping to speak with the Duchess. They posed as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and asked to speak with her. The lady who answered the phone at the hospital was a nurse who transferred the call to the Duchess. When the hoax was made public, the radio station was criticized for their part in this lack of respect for the royals. Some complained about the invasion of privacy and the radio hosts apologized on the air.

    Three days later the 46-year-old nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, committed suicide. The mother of two apparently suffered humiliation and extreme embarrassment for her role in the prank. Reaction in Britain and Australia has been swift with some calling for the two hosts to be held responsible. The matter is under investigation. In the meantime, the hosts went public commenting that they are “shattered, gutted and heartbroken.” The radio station set up a memorial fund for Jacintha’s family, contributing $525,000.00 from their advertising revenue. 

    Jacintha Saldanha

    Although an unexpected turn of events, without planning, provocation or devise, there is a lesson to be learned from this tragedy. As we have mentioned in earlier posts, we all need to be careful in our online presence and communications.There is no way to know the state of mind your reader is in. What you write can have unintended consequences. Your post may not constitute criminal behavior, but words do matter and can affect your reader. That’s one of the problems with texting. Your tone and facial expressions aren’t recorded and can’t be assessed by whoever is reading your post. Words alone can take on a different meaning when unaccompanied by your facial or body language. As we’ve said many times on AsktheJudge.info, “Think B4 U Send.”

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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