Blood Money & Eggshell Skulls

While the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha is tragic, to be fair one must pause and ask a few questions that are definitely not politically correct but nonetheless need to be asked. The nurse took a prank call from a Sydney radio station with the two DJ’s pretending to be HM the Queen and HRH Prince Charles. She believed them to be who they said they were and passed on the call to a colleague who revealed intimate details of the Duchess of Cambridge’s medical condition. A week later, Saldanha has taken her own life and the presumption is that it was directly because of this incident.

First of all, I think it shameful and disgusting that the DJs thought the personal and very private details of anyone’s pregnancy is fair game and should be public knowledge. That is poor taste in the extreme but sadly not a crime, I believe. It raises a lot of questions about what is and isn’t acceptable these days, especially as we seem to be becoming a society of softies, ready to take offence at the drop of a hat.

Secondly, for someone to be so deeply affected they abandon their husband and two teenage children and take their own life is something I can’t fathom. I find it cowardly and selfish in the extreme and I appreciate how devastating such an event is to those who loved the deceased. I have friends who have lost loved ones to suicide and mentioning this no doubt opens old wounds. For that I apologise but I do believe we need to discuss this topic openly, remove the media ban on reporting suicides and let the public know just how widespread a tragedy suicide actually is. I do think some of us are more susceptible to suiciding than others but the eggshell skull doctrine comes into play here.

There is a legal concept called the ‘eggshell skull’ which declares that even if the blow to the head wouldn’t have harmed 99% of the population, it did harm this victim as they had an eggshell skull. In other words each case must be tried on its merits and not on the merits of every other case. If Saldanha is more susceptible to such an extreme reaction to these specific events than anyone else int he world, so be it. But to me she must have had other issues, surely? She only passed on the call, she didn’t initiate it nor did she give the information away. Yet she appears to have felt sufficiently guilty to suicide. Sorry, but to me that is being about as selfish as you can be. We all handle situations differently to some degree but this is an extreme reaction, surely? There must have been underlying issues that were kicked over the edge by this, as if it was the trigger event she had been waiting for. I could be wrong of course but this is the only explanation I can accept as being the most logical.

What about the radio station? They suspended advertising to protect their advertisers from fall out. Fair enough but that was more commercially motivated and PR driven than anything else and that is understandable, they didn’t know the deceased. Yet to offer a $500,000 payment is so typical of today. As if money will fix everything. Blood money. Money will assuage the guilt and cleanse the slate. It is a bit like the news presenter telling us that, at the scene of the bus accident involving twenty schoolkids counselling has been offered to everyone. Great, we can all let out a sigh of relief, they are getting counseling so that means we don’t have to develop a psychosis over this. We sit in our overstuffed lounge chairs watching our giant flat screen TVs and suck up the gospel according to big business and those who mold our minds to consume what they make the most profit from. We are warned that the scenes we are about to see might cause some viewers distress. Well aren’t we bleeding lucky we aren’t actually there on the scene seeing everything! All the real horror of a bomb ripping apart women and children in a Middle Eastern marketplace,  blood and body bits hanging from trees. if they forget to cut out every morsel of reality and accidentally leave us with a large blood stain to shock ourselves over, they warn us before hand Don’t want someone sueing the TV station, do we. Can’t have real life push aside the construct the powers that be create for us so we can continue to consume in guilt free bliss.

Offering the money is as good as an admission of guilt in my book. The radio station is settling out of court, mitigating the collateral damage and all the other 21st century cliches and media catchphrases. A nice, large number, five hundred grand. Minimum. If they make more in ad sales between now and New Year’s then they will hand that over. Why not? It is a charitable donation and thus tax deductible. If they don’t do this they may lose more advertising revenue but now the advertisers can feel good about advertising on a station staffed with DJs who don’t seem to think through their pranks. 2DayFM, the home of the arch idiot and mister arrogance himself Kyle Whatshisname. They must have the most experienced damage control team in the PR world!

So why did Jacintha Saldanha commit suicide? Was it just because of the 2DayFM prank call? Her family claim she is such a devout Catholic this would have been enough to set her off. Thank God I don’t believe in God! It seems like such an onerous responsibility. Make no mistake, the loss of this nurse is a tragedy. What is also tragic is that we, as a society, think it is acceptable, even funny, to trick someone into giving away private information for the sake of a few laughs and some ratings, increased advertising revenues and a couple of ego’s. It is tragic that we feel it acceptable to pay off the family and even use this as a tactic to mitigate the damage and minimise the fallout.

When my wife was pregnant nobody but friends and family cared. No radio stations called, no women’s magazines stalked her for photos of her baby bump. Her pregnancies were just as special and at the same time every day and run of the mill natural as any celebrity’s. Perhaps the real offender here, and the victim, is us. Society. That we give the media the signals that we accept what they do to bring us our bread and circuses. That we want to read this stuff, to be titillated and shocked. It is just a part of the human condition and we’ll never change, no matter how many Jacintha Saldanha’s feel despondent enough to commit suicide. This is not, as a species, our finest moment.

2 Responses to “Blood Money & Eggshell Skulls”

  • Roger:

    Agreed, Perry: “But to me she must have had other issues, surely?”

    That was my immediate reaction when I heard about her death and read the paltry news reports.

    She was not in her rational mind, that’s for sure. And, as you say, she was described as a devour Catholic, for what that’s worth, anyway (I know, because I was born into a strict family of Catholics).

    Remains to be seen whether we get the whole story.

  • Roger, are those ‘devour Catholics’ the ones that eat vampires? Hahaha. I just can’t get my head around such a drastic response. It is not the behaviour of a rational, together human being. It multiplies the tragedy of this incident as the pranksters are now receiving death threats and have been moved to ‘safe houses’ and given protection. What is really sad is we both know that a month or two from now this will be old news and the public will have largely forgotten it all… but not those who will have to live with the death of the nurse for the rest of their lives.

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