Reaction to the Kate Middleton nurse tragedy

The world was horrified to learn today that the nurse who patched two prank calling Australian DJs to Kate Middleton's hospital room committed suicide last night. The nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, was found this morning, and the police are not conducting a criminal investigation and believe there was no foul play. The DJs have since voluntarily suspended themselves,  expressing shock over the tragedy. (Soure: TMZ)
The Australian DJs who pranked
Photo courtesy of @hot30countdown via Twitter
For those who do not know the story, two Australian DJs called King Edward VII Hospital where Kate Middleton was staying for a pregnancy-related illness. The DJs used unconvincing "British" accents on the phone and expected to hung up on, but surprisingly, they were patched through to Kate's room by Saldanha. A second nurse then proceeded to disclose to the DJs a variety of Kate's health-related information. The prank made King Edward VII Hospital an international laughingstock, and it raised questions on patient confidentiality procedures in the UK. However, the world did not hate the nurses for making the mistake, and the hospital supported its staff after the incident. The Royal Family did not file a complaint either. It appeared as if the real pressure to Saldanha mostly came from herself, and she was unable to handle the situation. It's extremely sad to know that if she had only waited for a few weeks, then the story would die and another sensational one would take its place. Life would go on.

Suicides are always tragic, but this one is resonating throughout the world because of the magnitude of humiliation inflicted upon Saldanha. I am sure the DJs had no idea that their joke would lead to a death, and their phone call was silly, not cruel. It highlighted the lack of security within the hospital, but the second nurse did not give out any embarrassing information about Princess Kate. I understand why the DJs have suspended themselves from being on air, but how could they have known that a joke, not even a malicious one, could lead to tragedy?

This is not the only headline in the past year where bullying has led to suicide. In October, for instance, 13-year-old Erin Gallagher committed suicide because she could no longer stand the attacks she received from online tormenters. A similar story occurred in September with Canadian teen Amanda Todd, who was bullied online.

You may wonder why I mention the suicides of Erin Gallagher and Amanda Todd when I previously stated that the Australian DJs were not intentionally cruel and they did not harass Saldhana, the way Gallagher and Todd's online bullies did. The reason for this is that pranks and jokes at the expense of strangers can amplify its reach and hurt people just as much as online bullying. Playing pranks on a stranger may seem "cute" at the time, but if the pranksters do not know the person, then they do not know his or her mental state and whether or not that person can take the joke. After all, the majority of people do not like to be ridiculed, and there is a fine line when the jokester is being playful and being cruel. With the internet, ridiculous content can go viral, ie the Kate Middleton hospital story.

Some may argue that this is an isolated case of someone with a fragile mental state and that this incident should not stop others from having fun. However, I ask what is so great about having fun at the expense of others? What joy do people have broadcasting the humiliation of strangers? It's okay to post comedy about yourself or with the permission of the second party; and it's questionably okay to critique or parody someone who willingly put themselves in the public eye. However, normal people living quiet lives should remain respected and undisturbed. As Jacintha Saldanha's tragedy has taught us, sometimes a joke can run away from the person who created it, and it's better to be safe than sorry.