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A Prank Call That May Have Contributed to a Suicide - Anonymous now involved. Ugh.

VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine.Registered User regular
edited December 2012 in Social Entropy++
So, I am trying to be extremely careful about what I put in this OP. It would be appreciated if you could read it all the way through prior to responding.

Earlier this week, an announcement was made that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate, was pregnant. She was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London for acute morning sickness (yes, it is a thing).

Not long after she was admitted, a pair of Australian radio DJs made a prank phone call to the hospital's main switchboard. They put on very awful English accents and pretended to be Prince Charles and the Queen, with someone even barking in the background pretending to sound like corgis. They were surprised that they were put through from reception to a nurse on the ward where Kate had been admitted, and the nurse proceeded to share confidential information about how Kate was doing.

This phone call was then discussed with the team and managers at the radio station and was approved for airing. The full audio was uploaded to the radio station's website and the call itself was broadcast over the radio, with snippets shared on the news.

The prank was generally laughed at, with Kate and William and Prince Charles included. The hospital itself had ensured both nurses would be safe from any legal repercussions since the Royal Family weren't going to pursue the matter. It stands to reason, however, that both women were ridiculed, mocked, and laughed at. It was all over the news here in Australia - and it was being treated as a very hilarious joke by pretty much everyone.

Earlier today, it has been found that the nurse who initially took the call - Jacinta - was found dead. Hours later, it has been indicated as a likely suicide.

Now, we will never, ever know what made that poor woman feel that she had to take her life. We may not even know if it is indeed linked to the prank call incident, but it's very likely to have been a contributor or a trigger, if not a "cause," given the timing.

SIDEBAR: I'm going to pre-empt anyone trying to say that the DJs should've known that suicide was a likely outcome of their action. Sorry, but it's not. It doesn't let the DJs off the hook, not at all, because it still happened, but to claim that suicide was an expected outcome when you do not know the person involved is disrespectful to the departed.

My questions stem from a discussion Blake and I were having about this just a few minutes ago. The two DJs are now coming under a massive amount of fire from around the world, with declarations that they should lose their jobs, face criminal charges, the works. They have been told there's "blood on your hands", and having browsed through the radio station's Facebook page and looking at the comments left, I can assure you that they're not pretty.

These aren't questions to be answered directly, but more to steer the discussion a bit. They are not easy questions to answer, and there are no right answers. I am very, very curious to know what others think and given that we have a pretty broad demographic with a good understanding for candor and humor here, I figured this was a good place for it.

1. Shouldn't there be concern that the two DJs are now in the same position the two nurses were before? They must feel awful about what they did and now people everywhere are demanding very harsh consequences. Isn't there a risk that these two DJs might feel pushed to consider doing something similar? And if there is that risk, how would the people calling for their blood respond?

2. What IS a reasonable response? There would have to be consequences even if it can never be proven that the suicide and their prank was linked - it's too likely to ignore. But should they lose their jobs? Should they face criminal charges? What should happen to them?

3. I believe there is a lesson to be learned and taught to young people (and even the more immature adults out there). About how the things you do and say - even in good-natured fun! - can result in bigger actions. It may only happen 1 in 500 times, but is that a good enough justification to carry on? And while she may not have taken her life over this incident alone, what else might have been going on for her that led to this? Isn't that a good lesson to teach kids (in a less morbid manner, of course) - that just because you didn't mean any harm does not mean harm is not done? That yeah, calling someone a name may not be a big deal most days, but what if that particular someone has an amazingly sad story you don't know about, and your name-calling was the straw that broke the camel's back?

4. In relation to 3, where do you draw the line? Surely we can't be expected to never say anything in jest to anyone for fear that they could die, but surely we CAN be expected to be nice and behave like bigger, stronger, kinder, wiser adults when we are able to do so. Can't we?

5. The advent of social media makes this kind of vitriol much easier to vent, share, and, most importantly, target. You can now make your ill-conceived views and opinions known to anyone who cares to know them, especially the person you are targeting! But what does that mean for people who can't seem to fathom how far the consequences can reach? I have seen kids bullied to the point of suicide, and social media is largely pointed to as huge contributing factor - because Facebook reaches past school, taking the bullying home with them, and it's basically a full day of torture with no break, no safe place. How do we begin to address this growing issue?

REFERENCES:
About the prank call - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20610197
Nurse found dead - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20645838
Royal Family response - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20649816
Response to the prank call - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20651246 ; http://www.news.com.au/world/twitter-vents-fury-on-aussie-royal-hoaxers-mel-greig-and-michael-christian-after-death/story-fndir2ev-1226532616339

UPDATES:

December 10
The DJs have given their first interview since the incident - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20662352
Interview can be viewed in full here - http://www.australiantimes.co.uk/news/in-australia/2day-fm-djs-break-silence-watch-full-interview-here.htm
The radio station have implemented a ban on all prank calls pending a review on their policies and procedures - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20657114
The radio station allege that multiple attempts were made to contact the nurses prior to airing the interview - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20661961

December 11
Anonymous get involved - http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2012/12/2day-fm-targeted-by-anonymous-after-royal-hoax-prank/

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  • BroloBrolo Broseidon Lord of the BroceanRegistered User regular
    I don't think there's even an easy answer to this - I think the original prank wasn't in good taste and was clearly made at the hospital staff's expense.

    But there's no way anyone involved in it could have anticipated this as a consequence, and that the DJs are getting lambasted in response isn't helping the matter either.

    Given that they're already such lightning rods for public opinion I can't see them keeping their jobs, if advertisers pull funding from the station due to them being kept on, then it's in the best interest of the station to cut them.

  • VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine. Registered User regular
    Yeah I see it that way, too, but then what happens to their livelihood? They'll never be employed in any sector where they are visible.

    If they do get fired, I really, genuinely hope that the radio station at least pays for counselling for the both of them as long as is necessary. Cuz that is some heavy shit to carry on your shoulders, and to lose your job at the same time would be, well, there wouldn't be many of us that'd bounce back from that.

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  • InvisibleInvisible Registered User regular
    I was talking to my mom about this earlier. She's a nurse and felt really bad for these two. She's dealt with celebrity patients (and non-celebrities) who want their privacy protected, they can't even acknowledge they're a patient or release any info without a pass code. But it's not easy, as a nurse you're busy, you have to juggle a lot and you want to do the right thing by the family. Even if the family wasn't going to pursue it, something with a celebrity can be damaging especially if you're the butt of the joke internationally.

    I think it was poor form to do a joke like this. You're dealing with patient privacy and medical professionals that are already overworked and stressed.

  • chidonachidona Registered User regular
    Given the history of that particular radio station (a 14 year old girl revealed she was raped), I'd just say that the station needs to more carefully consider what it does and doesn't do. I think it's a hell of a claim to say that the DJs have that poor nurse's blood on their hands, and I don't agree with it. That said, I don't feel sorry for them for the flak they're receiving; you can't just pull mean shit like this and laugh it all off (see the Brand & Ross controversy from a couple of years back), especially when dealing with sensitive information like confidential patient records.

    Truth be told, no-one I've spoken to even found the initial prank (pre-suicide) funny at all. They just thought the DJs were a bunch of inane twats.

  • Mr FuzzbuttMr Fuzzbutt Registered User regular
    Radio thrives on controversy. I don't think the DJs have anything to worry about in regards to their careers. I mean Kyle Sandilands is still around.

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  • VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine. Registered User regular
    God, yes, 2Day FM has shown a startling LACK of judgement in the past.

    I heard about the prank over the radio and on the news, and I could not understand why anyone thought it was funny. I just shrugged and did the whole "shock jocks are dumb" thing.

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  • Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    It's not necessarily funny, I think the point is that it is attention seeking at the end of the day.

  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    I think that the prank call was in terrible taste and it's hardly the first time radio presenters have done this sort of thing, just look at the Andrew Sachs situation with Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross in the UK. Calling up someone and mocking them down the phone and then posting that on the internet is bullying, pure and simple, those guys used their radio show to laugh at some poor nurse. Clearly they acted like a pair of complete bastards, and I feel they should lose their jobs for what they did. Even if she hadn't have committed suicide, it's still very poor show.

    However blaming them for the suicide seems like a stretch. Obviously, we don't know the specifics of the Nurse's mental state or anything, but it does seem to me that if she did commit suicide due to this, there might in all liklihood be some sort of underlying condition that the call kicked off. Not that it makes it any better, people shouldn't be pricks to each other like that in general, and given the timing it seems more than coincidental that she killed herself so soon after being publically mocked.

    Question three is answered rather simply: Words mean things. Saying things to people affects how they feel. People need to take responsibility for what they say and how other people respond to that, and consider their words before they speak. I wonder if the two DJs thought that the nurse might feel utterly shitty as a result of what they did, and ignored that because it was funny, or just didn't consider that at all. Either way, engage brain then open mouth.

  • BeastehBeasteh THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULARegistered User regular
    this is god damned fucking tragic

  • BroloBrolo Broseidon Lord of the BroceanRegistered User regular
    I see the initial prank as being part of the public's bizarre need to get inside the life of celebrities (the Royal Family in this case) - there's such a huge demand for this sort of thing that it creates this seedy, sleazy underside.

    Remember those topless photos of Kate Middleton a few months ago? Where some papparazi had hidden on a roof outside of their house in france so he could snap pictures of her? Almost everyone agreed that it was in poor taste, but damned if TMZ and the papers that published the photos of her didn't immediately become mobbed by people eager to see the goods.





  • WietWiet Mao Mao Registered User regular
    While they're obviously vile gits, I feel like it's the radio station isn't the only thing to blame when it's also British media turning the prank call into something on par with the Cuban missle crisis. The Daily Mail was doing its thing per usual and when you have this sort of headline after it happened it's clear the media still don't give a shit about the nurse's death and it's still all about ~our royals~

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  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    Yeah, segments of the British media is doing a fuck-awful job of handling this

    not that anyone expects the Mail to treat anything with a mediocum of dignity, of course

  • PlatyPlaty Registered User regular
    The British yellow press is despicable.

  • WietWiet Mao Mao Registered User regular
    As far as I can tell it's another case of an uncontrolled, shitty media contributing directly to someone's suicide while simultaneously denying it's doing anything wrong. This close after the Leveson report it's even more staggering.

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  • PaperLuigi44PaperLuigi44 My amazement is at maximum capacity. Registered User regular
    Radio thrives on controversy. I don't think the DJs have anything to worry about in regards to their careers. I mean Kyle Sandilands is still around.

    I've never heard of these presenters before so I don't know how entrenched they are into 2Day's line-up. Sandilands had a long-standing controversial (read: awful) reputation.

  • GatsbyGatsby Registered User regular
    While I think the entire prank call was dumb and ridiculous, I have some level of empathy for what the DJs are going through. They did something stupid and now they'll have to live without ever truly knowing if what they pulled off triggered this horrible incident that cost a woman her life. That's punishment enough in my eyes, to live with whatever guilt and regret they may have. That said, however, if they do lose their jobs I wouldn't bat an eye, any sort of criminal charges seem extremely excessive though, this couldn't have been predicted.

    I'm more angry at 2Day FM as a whole though, for their disturbing lack of progress from these recent mistakes.

  • OdenOden Registered User regular
    apparently no one at 2day has apologised yet and all their statements have been very carefully worded

    also two of their biggest sponsors have stopped supporting them

  • UnbrokenEvaUnbrokenEva HIGH ON THE WIRE BUT I WON'T TRIP ITRegistered User regular
    Chidona's link included something that changed how I feel about this

    "The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast in Sydney."

    The pair's excuse to date was that they didn't expect the call to be allowed through, that they thought they'd be hung up on immediately. That it was pre-recorded, and approved by a legal team makes this seem a whole lot more premeditated, rather than them getting caught up in the moment.

    So fuck them. Based on the rest of that article, I don't think the pair should lose their jobs, I think the station should lose it's license. It's already on probation for pulling hideous shit on the regular, and there should be consequences.

  • Mr FuzzbuttMr Fuzzbutt Registered User regular
    Radio thrives on controversy. I don't think the DJs have anything to worry about in regards to their careers. I mean Kyle Sandilands is still around.

    I've never heard of these presenters before so I don't know how entrenched they are into 2Day's line-up. Sandilands had a long-standing controversial (read: awful) reputation.

    Neither have I, but if they're anything like Sandilands they'll probably see it as their big break. No such thing as bad publicity and all that.

    broken image link
  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    So instead of two people losing their jobs, you want an entire radio station permanently shut down? Basically I see it as the producer who thought the whole thing up being primarily at fault. Even then they're just an idiot, they don't necessarily deserve to lose their job for not fully thinking through every single possible consequence of their actions.

    Really, it was just a prank call that they expected to get hung up on. I strongly doubt a single person at the station or here would think "a prank call? what if things get WAY out of hand and someone kills themselves?"

  • MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited December 2012
    It's all in good fun

    It can't hurt anyone who doesn't let it hurt them
    -justifications I've heard from tormentors

    MKR on
  • BeastehBeasteh THAT WOULD NOT KILL DRACULARegistered User regular
    i can't even begin to imagine the hounding the press would have given this woman

  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    I hope you don't think that's what I think.

  • MKRMKR Registered User regular
    I hope you don't think that's what I think.

    50 posts appeared while I was typing and posting mine. Your post got caught in the crossfire

  • SolarSolar Registered User regular
    I don't think the station should get shut down unless it has made a habit of misusing it's broadcasting rights.

    These guys feel terrible, sure, and I understand that. I have some empathy for that. On the other hand, if they didn't want to feel like pieces of shit for how they treat other people while on their show, maybe they should have treated other people better while on their show. Its just a joke/we never meant to hurt anyone does not excuse you of what you do.

  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    S'cool mang!

  • AirAir Registered User regular
    edited December 2012
    Fearghaill wrote: »
    Chidona's link included something that changed how I feel about this

    "The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast in Sydney."

    The pair's excuse to date was that they didn't expect the call to be allowed through, that they thought they'd be hung up on immediately. That it was pre-recorded, and approved by a legal team makes this seem a whole lot more premeditated, rather than them getting caught up in the moment.

    So fuck them. Based on the rest of that article, I don't think the pair should lose their jobs, I think the station should lose it's license. It's already on probation for pulling hideous shit on the regular, and there should be consequences.

    ah k that changes things away from a silly prank that went further than expected
    although
    it just means that 2day fm is full of people who will make efforts to be dicks whenever possible
    and that is no change at all

    Air on
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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Saw this on the Beeb yesterday. The article repeated said the hospital wasn't pursuing anything against her, so all the more surprising.

    I don't think there should be any legal action taken, either criminal by either state, or civil by the nurse's family - if the governments hadn't taken action as a result of the call, then none should be taken after her death either. There is no way they could have predicted this outcome - I don't know UK labour laws, but possibly could have seen the nurse getting fired here in the US for violating HIPAA, etc.

    Agree with Rolo in that the DJs probably have to be let go - if not for the call, then for its outcome. Just getting the nurse fired might have been "OK," since she failed to do her job protecting a patient, but indirectly causing her death is too much negative press for the DJs and the station.

  • Johnny ChopsockyJohnny Chopsocky Scootaloo! We have to cook! Grillin' HaysenburgersRegistered User regular
    "I didn't mean for horrible shit to happen" is not adequate justification for intentionally doing awful things to people.

    So yeah, fire the DJs, the producer responsible and maybe force a resignation from the station's GM.

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  • Peter EbelPeter Ebel CopenhagenRegistered User regular
    edited December 2012
    I'm all for prank calling Radio Djs losing their jobs, because I hate what they do. On a less emotionally driven plane, I don't know that there's a lesson to be learned here except our insatiable hunger for easy and entertaining news have created a press that sometimes drives its subjects to suicide.

    Peter Ebel on
    Fuck off and die.
  • UnbrokenEvaUnbrokenEva HIGH ON THE WIRE BUT I WON'T TRIP ITRegistered User regular
    Solar wrote: »
    I don't think the station should get shut down unless it has made a habit of misusing it's broadcasting rights.

    These guys feel terrible, sure, and I understand that. I have some empathy for that. On the other hand, if they didn't want to feel like pieces of shit for how they treat other people while on their show, maybe they should have treated other people better while on their show. Its just a joke/we never meant to hurt anyone does not excuse you of what you do.

    From everything I've read, they have! They're already on probation, so it's not like I'm calling for them to lose their license over this one incident. They have a history of using their platform to broadcast vile shit.

  • Blake TBlake T Do you have enemies then? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.Registered User regular
    Fearghaill wrote: »
    Chidona's link included something that changed how I feel about this

    "The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast in Sydney."

    The pair's excuse to date was that they didn't expect the call to be allowed through, that they thought they'd be hung up on immediately. That it was pre-recorded, and approved by a legal team makes this seem a whole lot more premeditated, rather than them getting caught up in the moment.

    So fuck them. Based on the rest of that article, I don't think the pair should lose their jobs, I think the station should lose it's license. It's already on probation for pulling hideous shit on the regular, and there should be consequences.
    Oh this is bullshit, if they got hung up on immediately it wouldn't have been a story.

  • warbanwarban Who the Hoof do you think we are? Registered User regular
    Talk radio shouldn't be able to profit from trolling/bullying.

    I don't what the http://www.acma.gov.au says about this but something needs to be done about stopping this sort of behavior outright.

    Acma havn't said anything publicly but there needs to be a increase of clear punishment to these guys for attempting this behavior not matter what the outcome.

    ACE ✰ PONY ✰ DETECTIVE!
  • UnbrokenEvaUnbrokenEva HIGH ON THE WIRE BUT I WON'T TRIP ITRegistered User regular
    it's what they said. "oh, we thought as soon as they heard our terrible accents they'd hang up!" Except they didn't hang up, and the pair went through with it, recorded the call, ran it by their producer/lawyers, and made the decision to air it. To me that makes it as premeditated as if they expected it to work in the first place. There was time for a sober second thought, and they chose to do it anyway.

  • MulletudeMulletude Registered User regular
    Being that this is the royal family, aren't there some sort of protocols in place regarding who can contact the hospital for information? Like a list of approved names or even someone who works for the family in the hospital at all times to handle the flow of information?

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  • Darth WaiterDarth Waiter Elrond Hubbard Mordor XenuRegistered User regular
    I only know the most rudimentary of things about the British yellow press.

    If the nurse who ended up taking her own life hadn't done so (I deeply wish she hadn't), what level of shit-storm could she have expected and how long would it have lasted?

    And (for what it's worth and if what I'm reading is processing in my brain this early) the DJ's should probably lose their jobs as well as face some sort of public censure.

    The whole boys-will-be-boys-excuse ended at thirteen when you smashed a neighbor's window; the medium of public broadcasting carries with it an inherent weight of consequence. Even Howard-fucking-Stern has to tow the line for his paycheck.

  • VivixenneVivixenne Remember your training, and we'll get through this just fine. Registered User regular
    I personally believe that the responsible thing to do was that once they realized they were being let through, to say "oh shit this is just a prank call, don't actually put us through, we don't wanna get you in trouble at your job"

    there is also the niggling thought that neither nurse consented to their voices being played on the radio show

    you know how in candid camera and other prank TV shows, the people in the video have to give consent before it can be broadcast?

    I highly doubt consent was sought or received by either individual nurse involved in this call, and that bugs me a bit

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  • InvisibleInvisible Registered User regular
    Mulletude wrote: »
    Being that this is the royal family, aren't there some sort of protocols in place regarding who can contact the hospital for information? Like a list of approved names or even someone who works for the family in the hospital at all times to handle the flow of information?

    I don't know how it is the UK, but the in US if you ask for confidentiality they cannot release the information to anyone with the pass code regardless if they're family or not. This is true for both celebrities and non-celebrities, they cannot even release that they are patient. I'm sure there's protocols for saying yes the family can have this information, but I don't know if that applies only in person or phone, too. I'll have to ask my mom, but according to her when someone calls in and the patient has requested they not release info without a pass code it doesn't matter what you say on the phone (whether you're the Queen of England or their husband) without that pass code you get no information.

  • AirAir Registered User regular
    that radio station did this super shitty thing one time where they tracked down some long lost family members, i dont remember the details of the relatives exactly but this chicks parents were probably refugees or she was an orphan or something

    so she never knew her family back in asia but the radio station tracked them down and flew one of them over to reunite them
    then at the last minute they go, shes behind one of these 3 doors, if you pick the right one you get reunited, pick the wrong one and we will send her home. oh yea and theres soundproof glass behind the doors as well

    so then this chick picked the wrong door and they were like nah check it out shes behind this other one now you dont get to meet or find out anything about each other and you can spend the rest of your life never knowing who they are

    cue these people crying their fucking eyes on opposite sides of soundproof glass at the sight of each other and begging the radio hosts to let them meet each other
    this goes for a while before they cave and let them meet, and then they act like they are good guys for reuniting them even though she picked the wrong door

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  • Raijin QuickfootRaijin Quickfoot I'm your Huckleberry YOU'RE NO DAISYRegistered User, ClubPA regular
    This is a pretty horrific example of why I hate pranks. The person doing the pranking is straight up being an asshole and if you don't know the emotional state of the person you're pranking then your treading on dangerous ground.

    Pranks are mean-spirited and can lead to nothing but bad things all for a laugh? There are better and easier ways to be funny.

    Now, since we don't know why this woman chose to take her own life I'm a little torn on what should happen to them. It definitely seems like the prank is a part of the reason though I highly doubt it is the sole reason. However, since this can never be proven, we're stuck in a situation without a completely fair resolution. They should definitely be punished, and I would be ok with prank radio being banned from the airways but that's more of a personal vendetta.

    It's just like that ghost girl in the elevator prank going around. People are enjoying it and getting a good laugh because nobody got hurt. However, when you put someone in a situation where they feel immense fear you don't know how they will react. What happens if someone lashed out angrily and hurts that girl because they are so terrified? Why put anyone in that situation if you don't have to? It just leads to the possibility of tragedy.

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