A prank turned grim

You have probably heard about those two Australian radio hosts who called the hospital where Kate Middleton, pregnant with a future monarch of England, was being treated for severe morning sickness.  They imitated the voice of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, the grandparents, and managed to get their call transferred to the hospital room.  Very funny.  But now the nurse who took the call and was bamboozled felt so humiliated and ashamed that she has apparently committed suicide.

Anger at Australian radio station over royal hoax – Houston Chronicle.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    While I by no means condone what the dj’s did, I don’t think they can be blamed for her suicide. They may have contributed, but with these cases there is always more than what is readily apparent. People who commit suicide usually have a long standing mental illness of one sort or another. One doesn’t generally go from healthy to suicidal.

    I do feel for her and her family. Nobody should ever have to experience the humiliation of the prank and the tragedy of suicide.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    While I by no means condone what the dj’s did, I don’t think they can be blamed for her suicide. They may have contributed, but with these cases there is always more than what is readily apparent. People who commit suicide usually have a long standing mental illness of one sort or another. One doesn’t generally go from healthy to suicidal.

    I do feel for her and her family. Nobody should ever have to experience the humiliation of the prank and the tragedy of suicide.

  • Tom Hering

    Doc 21 is right. There was more than humiliation going on with that nurse. The DJs had the rotten luck of triggering something in her with their prank.

  • Tom Hering

    Doc 21 is right. There was more than humiliation going on with that nurse. The DJs had the rotten luck of triggering something in her with their prank.

  • DonS

    I agree with the above comments. It was a silly prank — the kind DJ’s pull all of the time. The nurse was quite gullible in falling for it, especially since she was releasing highly prized medical information, but on the other hand the nature of what she released was quite innocuous and harmless. Certainly there was nothing about this event which should have resulted in suicide, absent a predisposition to that end on the part of the nurse they happened to call.

  • DonS

    I agree with the above comments. It was a silly prank — the kind DJ’s pull all of the time. The nurse was quite gullible in falling for it, especially since she was releasing highly prized medical information, but on the other hand the nature of what she released was quite innocuous and harmless. Certainly there was nothing about this event which should have resulted in suicide, absent a predisposition to that end on the part of the nurse they happened to call.

  • helen

    Nobody here to speak for the nurse!?

    Hospital staff who knowing or unknowingly release information about [royalty in UK; "celebrities" here] usually get quite a bit of flak and can lose their jobs.

    It’s in nobody’s interest to tell what was said to her.

  • helen

    Nobody here to speak for the nurse!?

    Hospital staff who knowing or unknowingly release information about [royalty in UK; "celebrities" here] usually get quite a bit of flak and can lose their jobs.

    It’s in nobody’s interest to tell what was said to her.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I have very little sympathy for the DJs involved in this. They certainly couldn’t have imagined that the end result of their prank would have been a death, but the possibility that the nurse would have been fired was very high if they were successful. So they appear quite callous to me. Everyone else is a means to an end for some cheap yuks.

    Let this serve as a reminder to all of us that we are called to love the people we come in contact with — even the ones who annoy us, the ones we inwardly mock, the ones who don’t seem to offer us much. I know I fall short in this regard. Lord have mercy.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I have very little sympathy for the DJs involved in this. They certainly couldn’t have imagined that the end result of their prank would have been a death, but the possibility that the nurse would have been fired was very high if they were successful. So they appear quite callous to me. Everyone else is a means to an end for some cheap yuks.

    Let this serve as a reminder to all of us that we are called to love the people we come in contact with — even the ones who annoy us, the ones we inwardly mock, the ones who don’t seem to offer us much. I know I fall short in this regard. Lord have mercy.

  • Grace

    I agree with you tODD.

    Medical personnel are never to divulge information regarding any patient to anyone, unless they use a phone number, which has been provided by a close family member at the time the patient is admitted, to CALL BACK, therefore being confident to whom they are speaking.

    The nurse who gave the info out, was most likely shocked to hear the Queen of England on the other line, therefore forgetting her duty and giving out information. The so called “PRANK” – those who made the call, were mocking the Queen and Prince Charles. They deserve whatever punishment they get.

    I don’t believe the nurse who died was in any way mentally disturbed before this incident. She most likely felt such shame and remorse, knowing how ill Kate was, and her comments making it worse made a snap decision, which ended her life.

    I feel very badly for the nurses children and husband, it’s a terrible situation. We can all pray for those involved.

    It has also been made clear by hospital personnel, that the nurse was very well liked, and a very good nurse.

  • Grace

    I agree with you tODD.

    Medical personnel are never to divulge information regarding any patient to anyone, unless they use a phone number, which has been provided by a close family member at the time the patient is admitted, to CALL BACK, therefore being confident to whom they are speaking.

    The nurse who gave the info out, was most likely shocked to hear the Queen of England on the other line, therefore forgetting her duty and giving out information. The so called “PRANK” – those who made the call, were mocking the Queen and Prince Charles. They deserve whatever punishment they get.

    I don’t believe the nurse who died was in any way mentally disturbed before this incident. She most likely felt such shame and remorse, knowing how ill Kate was, and her comments making it worse made a snap decision, which ended her life.

    I feel very badly for the nurses children and husband, it’s a terrible situation. We can all pray for those involved.

    It has also been made clear by hospital personnel, that the nurse was very well liked, and a very good nurse.

  • Hanni

    It’s so tragic, what could she have been thinking to end her life over this, sorry she didnt have counseling, if she didnt. But this is also a tragedy for Kate and William, their child’s birth always saddened by this happening.

  • Hanni

    It’s so tragic, what could she have been thinking to end her life over this, sorry she didnt have counseling, if she didnt. But this is also a tragedy for Kate and William, their child’s birth always saddened by this happening.

  • Cincinnatus

    Grace,

    I’m with tODD here as well, but your speculation that the nurse was not mentally disturbed beforehand seems a bit dubious. I simply can’t imagine killing myself if I did something embarrassing or incompetent enough to lose my job. I might become temporarily depressed and down a few more single-malts than I typically do, but eventually I would find a new job and move on. I would, I repeat, not kill myself. Suicide, as you apparently don’t know, is usually rooted in psychological disturbances and predispositions that can’t simply be explained as a knee-jerk reaction to an embarrassing episode, etc.

    That said, back to tODD. Those defending the shock jocks might pause to consider how Christ might have behaved. Though Christ is, curiously, depicted as a rather humorless figure in the Gospels (unlike Socrates, he is not recorded laughing even once), but I’m quite sure there is space for laughter in the Christian life. And yet I don’t know if humor ought to come at the distinct expense of others. Remember, even if the nurse didn’t commit suicide, the only way for this prank to have been amusing for the DJs would have been for the nurse to do something illicit and detrimental to her own employment–e.g., revealing private information, etc.

    So yeah. No sympathy for the DJs, even though I’m amenable to the claim that they aren’t to “blame” for the nurse’s suicide.

  • Cincinnatus

    Grace,

    I’m with tODD here as well, but your speculation that the nurse was not mentally disturbed beforehand seems a bit dubious. I simply can’t imagine killing myself if I did something embarrassing or incompetent enough to lose my job. I might become temporarily depressed and down a few more single-malts than I typically do, but eventually I would find a new job and move on. I would, I repeat, not kill myself. Suicide, as you apparently don’t know, is usually rooted in psychological disturbances and predispositions that can’t simply be explained as a knee-jerk reaction to an embarrassing episode, etc.

    That said, back to tODD. Those defending the shock jocks might pause to consider how Christ might have behaved. Though Christ is, curiously, depicted as a rather humorless figure in the Gospels (unlike Socrates, he is not recorded laughing even once), but I’m quite sure there is space for laughter in the Christian life. And yet I don’t know if humor ought to come at the distinct expense of others. Remember, even if the nurse didn’t commit suicide, the only way for this prank to have been amusing for the DJs would have been for the nurse to do something illicit and detrimental to her own employment–e.g., revealing private information, etc.

    So yeah. No sympathy for the DJs, even though I’m amenable to the claim that they aren’t to “blame” for the nurse’s suicide.

  • Tom Hering

    Though Christ is, curiously, depicted as a rather humorless figure in the Gospels … (@ 8)

    Wit depends on context. A number of writers have examined biblical context to bring out the wittiness of God as a man among us. See this …

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Humor-Christ-Elton-Trueblood/dp/0060686324

    … and the titles that appear in “Customers who bought this item also bought.”

  • Tom Hering

    Though Christ is, curiously, depicted as a rather humorless figure in the Gospels … (@ 8)

    Wit depends on context. A number of writers have examined biblical context to bring out the wittiness of God as a man among us. See this …

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Humor-Christ-Elton-Trueblood/dp/0060686324

    … and the titles that appear in “Customers who bought this item also bought.”

  • George

    It was certainly unchristian what the radio hosts did, but I think it’s ridiculous to act like they are responsible for her death. We bully Grace on here from time to time, and I’m sorry but I hardly think we would be responsible if she committed suicide.

  • George

    It was certainly unchristian what the radio hosts did, but I think it’s ridiculous to act like they are responsible for her death. We bully Grace on here from time to time, and I’m sorry but I hardly think we would be responsible if she committed suicide.

  • JR

    Just for the record, it seems the nurse who killed herself was not the one who divulged the information – she merely transferred the call to the one who did.

  • JR

    Just for the record, it seems the nurse who killed herself was not the one who divulged the information – she merely transferred the call to the one who did.

  • Grace

    George @ 10 YOU WROTE: ” We bully Grace on here from time to time, and I’m sorry but I hardly think we would be responsible if she committed suicide.”

    There is nothing any one on this blog could post, that would cause me to take my life. The reason? – I know Christ my Savior, HE knows me, HE will always take care of me. Man can do what he wishes, but God has full control.

  • Grace

    George @ 10 YOU WROTE: ” We bully Grace on here from time to time, and I’m sorry but I hardly think we would be responsible if she committed suicide.”

    There is nothing any one on this blog could post, that would cause me to take my life. The reason? – I know Christ my Savior, HE knows me, HE will always take care of me. Man can do what he wishes, but God has full control.

  • Grace

    George,

    We must remember, not EVERYONE knows our Savior Jesus Christ, nor do they understand HIS saving Grace – that’s the difference.

    Let’s not forget the nurse’s family in prayer, it must be devastating for her children, husband, family and loved oenes. May they come know Christ, if they don’t already.

  • Grace

    George,

    We must remember, not EVERYONE knows our Savior Jesus Christ, nor do they understand HIS saving Grace – that’s the difference.

    Let’s not forget the nurse’s family in prayer, it must be devastating for her children, husband, family and loved oenes. May they come know Christ, if they don’t already.

  • Hanni

    I have been thinking more abaout this nurse, and have come to the conclusion that the topic of suicide among Christians has not been explored very much. Excluding her situation, some seem to believe that if one is a Christian, suicide won’t happen. Why do Christians kill themselves? Quite a few years ago I read about a St Louis Presbyterian pastor who took his own life, just before his 25th anniversary of pastoring his church. His flock were shocked and despairing, as they loved him very much. 2 years or so after that another Presby. pastor in same area killed himself, in late 30s with 3 children. He had gone on sporting trip, hurt his leg, it had to amputated, and he simply could not rid himself of his depression. Were they not Christian? Did they not know the Lord as their Saviour? Some have said this could never happen to them, as they trust God to take care of them? Jerram Barrs preached the sermons for both of them, being a very good friend, and said among other things that they “refused to be comforted.” I was on a list once where a poster made fun of a pastor (Pres.) from Ky. who killed himself, saying that he obviously was not a good pastor! It is very complicated and I don’t think we ever know what we would co in certain situations, but getting help is the very first thing.

  • Hanni

    I have been thinking more abaout this nurse, and have come to the conclusion that the topic of suicide among Christians has not been explored very much. Excluding her situation, some seem to believe that if one is a Christian, suicide won’t happen. Why do Christians kill themselves? Quite a few years ago I read about a St Louis Presbyterian pastor who took his own life, just before his 25th anniversary of pastoring his church. His flock were shocked and despairing, as they loved him very much. 2 years or so after that another Presby. pastor in same area killed himself, in late 30s with 3 children. He had gone on sporting trip, hurt his leg, it had to amputated, and he simply could not rid himself of his depression. Were they not Christian? Did they not know the Lord as their Saviour? Some have said this could never happen to them, as they trust God to take care of them? Jerram Barrs preached the sermons for both of them, being a very good friend, and said among other things that they “refused to be comforted.” I was on a list once where a poster made fun of a pastor (Pres.) from Ky. who killed himself, saying that he obviously was not a good pastor! It is very complicated and I don’t think we ever know what we would co in certain situations, but getting help is the very first thing.

  • Stephen

    Hanni,

    If it helps, simply because someone is unable to practice what they preach, even going to the extreme of suicide, does not mean they did not believe it to be true. Logically, the two things – what one believes and how they actually behave – are not the same thing. Who among us lives what they believe? If we actually could, we’d have no need of Christ.

    Also, suicide is not exclusively about despair per se. It also involves a great deal of shame that one fears they will bring on others. Suicide may be an attempt to alleviate the perceived suffering of others – “if I were not here, they’d be better off.”

    I know that this nurse was Indian, and that Indians are generally not as individualistic as we are. Their identities are very much a product of where and who they come from, even to the exclusion of thoughts about their own personal wishes or desires. How many of us in the west can even tolerate the very idea of arranged marriage for instance. But to an Indian it makes perfect sense. It is quite possible that her suicide had to do with the perceived shame she would bring upon her family by betraying the confidence of no less than the royal family.

    Yes, I am of the belief that real, believing Christians do commit suicide. And it is the devil’s work, both to see them lose their life to their torment and for those left to fear that such an act means they had no faith after all. But neither life nor death nor ANYTHING in heaven or earth can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. His mercies endure forever.

  • Stephen

    Hanni,

    If it helps, simply because someone is unable to practice what they preach, even going to the extreme of suicide, does not mean they did not believe it to be true. Logically, the two things – what one believes and how they actually behave – are not the same thing. Who among us lives what they believe? If we actually could, we’d have no need of Christ.

    Also, suicide is not exclusively about despair per se. It also involves a great deal of shame that one fears they will bring on others. Suicide may be an attempt to alleviate the perceived suffering of others – “if I were not here, they’d be better off.”

    I know that this nurse was Indian, and that Indians are generally not as individualistic as we are. Their identities are very much a product of where and who they come from, even to the exclusion of thoughts about their own personal wishes or desires. How many of us in the west can even tolerate the very idea of arranged marriage for instance. But to an Indian it makes perfect sense. It is quite possible that her suicide had to do with the perceived shame she would bring upon her family by betraying the confidence of no less than the royal family.

    Yes, I am of the belief that real, believing Christians do commit suicide. And it is the devil’s work, both to see them lose their life to their torment and for those left to fear that such an act means they had no faith after all. But neither life nor death nor ANYTHING in heaven or earth can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ. His mercies endure forever.

  • andrew

    the objective of the prank call was to humiliate. whether or not they transferred the call, they wanted to make fun of a professional who was in the thick of doing their job as conscientiously as possible. this wasn’t a person who put themselves in the public eye or expected this.

    Here in australia there isn’t a lot of sympathy for the DJs. Their radio station has a long track record of doing particularly insensitive stunts. That the radio station broadcast without the permission of the nurse or hospital shows their disregard for the privacy of those involved. Or that they didn’t consider that even if they did get hold of the hospital, there is not a snowflake’s chance in a supernova the hospital would have granted permission.

    The hospital probably didn’t do much in terms of supporting the nurse, and she probably feared for her job and her reputation flowing out of this incident.

    Having suffered (and still suffering from) depression, I know that it does not take a lot to tip someone from being on the cusp of being ok into the pit of despair. Make that pit deep enough, and the ridicule public enough, and i can see how this woman might have done what she did.

  • andrew

    the objective of the prank call was to humiliate. whether or not they transferred the call, they wanted to make fun of a professional who was in the thick of doing their job as conscientiously as possible. this wasn’t a person who put themselves in the public eye or expected this.

    Here in australia there isn’t a lot of sympathy for the DJs. Their radio station has a long track record of doing particularly insensitive stunts. That the radio station broadcast without the permission of the nurse or hospital shows their disregard for the privacy of those involved. Or that they didn’t consider that even if they did get hold of the hospital, there is not a snowflake’s chance in a supernova the hospital would have granted permission.

    The hospital probably didn’t do much in terms of supporting the nurse, and she probably feared for her job and her reputation flowing out of this incident.

    Having suffered (and still suffering from) depression, I know that it does not take a lot to tip someone from being on the cusp of being ok into the pit of despair. Make that pit deep enough, and the ridicule public enough, and i can see how this woman might have done what she did.


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