Nurse who answered hoax call about Duchess of Cambridge had attempted to kill herself before
The nurse who committed suicide after answering a hoax phone call about the Duchess of Cambridge made two attempts to kill herself last winter and had been prescribed antidepressants.
Jacintha Saldanha, who took her own life days after the call from Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, attempted to commit suicide last December with an overdose of pills during a family visit to India.
She survived after being rushed to hospital but tried to commit suicide again just nine days later by apparently jumping from a building.
Ms Saldanha, 46, spent several days in intensive care before receiving psychiatric treatment and being prescribed a course of powerful antidepressants for nine months.
Along with the previous suicide attempts, reported in an Indian newspaper, members of Ms Saldanha’s family have revealed that the nurse was so ashamed after taking the hoax call earlier this month that she did not tell her husband or children about it before her death, despite speaking to them by phone several times.
Ms Saldanha was found hanged with a scarf at her living quarters at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Central London on December 7.
Three days earlier, Ms Saldanha was the duty nurse who answered the prank call from Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and transferred it to a colleague.
That nurse revealed confidential medical information about the pregnant Duchess, who was being treated at the hospital for acute morning sickness. The call was broadcast in Australia and made headlines around the world.
Yet the closest Ms Saldanha came to telling her husband she was at the centre of the story was when she told him to watch the news, claimed family members in her home town of Mangalore, southern India.
‘The first her husband knew that she was the victim of the hoax call was when police told him she was dead. Nobody in the family knew,’ said her younger brother Naveen Saldanha, 42. ‘They spoke several times that week but she did not tell him or the kids anything about it.’
The latest insight into the nurse’s state of mind came as British police confirmed yesterday they had passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether any offences had been committed.
Daughter Lisha Saldanha, left, and son Junal Saldanha, right, are consoled by their father Benedict Barbosa during their mother's funeral
Ms Greig and Mr Christian could be charged with attempting to obtain medical details by deception. Further charges could be brought against Australian radio station 2Day FM if it is found to have broadcast the prank without the permission of the participants.
Although Ms Saldanha’s family have previously said she did not have a history of depression, new reports suggest she has been battling the condition since at least December last year.
That month, Ms Saldanha, her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, 49, their son Junal, 17, and adopted daughter Lisha, 14, attended a family wedding in Shirva, 30 miles north of Mangalore. But on December 30, just days after the devout Catholic family celebrated Christmas, Ms Saldanha is believed to have taken an overdose of pills. She was rushed to a private hospital in Mangalore, where she was treated for ‘self-harm’.
Australian radio DJ's Michael Christian and Mel Greig who were responsible for the prank call to King Edward VII hospital
On January 8 this year, she is believed to have attempted suicide again and was treated at Father Muller Medical College Hospital for head injuries suffered in a ‘fall’.
She was kept in intensive care for several days and then admitted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital, where she was treated for depression.
She was discharged three days later and given a nine-month course of anti-depressants. Her family was warned there was a risk that she may attempt suicide again.
Ms Saldanha, 46, is understood to have spent several days in intensive care before receiving psychiatric treatment and being prescribed a course of powerful antidepressants for nine months following her suicide attempts
Ms Saldanha’s medication would have finished in September. It is not known if she was prescribed any more or if staff at King Edward VII’s knew of her fragile condition.
Last night, her brother, an engineer in Mangalore, said: ‘We didn’t know about the first incident, but we knew about the second incident at Father Muller.’ He refused to give further details.
Mr Saldanha said Jacintha spoke to her husband by telephone on the evening of the prank call, which was made at 5.30am on Tuesday, December 4, but did not tell him about her involvement. He added that she spoke to her husband and children twice the following day, but still did not reveal anything, though she told Mr Barboza to watch the news.
Ms Saldanha's medication would have finished in September but it is not known if she was prescribed any more or if staff at the hospital knew of her condition
Mr Saldanha said he believes his sister did not tell her family in the UK or India about the hoax as she felt ashamed.
Mr Barboza became slightly concerned when his wife did not call on Thursday, December 6, but believed she was busy with nursing classes.
On Friday morning, he called a colleague of Ms Saldanha to check on his wife. Hours later, he was told of her death by officers from Avon and Somerset Police.
Last week, the body of Ms Saldanha was flown back to India and buried according to her wishes in the village of Shirva.
Fighting back tears, Mr Saldanha said: ‘I want justice for my sister. I want the British authorities to get the truth. My best memory of my sister was her kindness.’
His wife, Zeena, 34, added: ‘She and the family were supposed to return to India for a holiday early next year. The last time we spoke to her was in November and she sounded so happy.’
Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed how Ms Saldanha blamed the two DJs for her death in one of three apparent suicide notes. In another note, she criticised ‘aspects of the hospital staff’.
A hospital spokesman declined to comment on reports that Ms Saldanha had previously tried to commit suicide.
Jacintha family demand answers to SIXTY questions of radio station's parent company and the hospital where she worked
THE grieving family of nurse Jacintha Saldanha have sent 60 questions to the Australian media group behind the hoax phone call and the hospital where she committed suicide.
In their search for answers surrounding the death, the family posed 40 questions in a letter to King Edward VII’s Hospital, where Ms Saldanha worked as a nurse and where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness.
They asked a further 20 questions in a letter to Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of 2Day FM, whose DJs pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles in the December 4 call, which Ms Saldanha answered.
The family of Ms Saldanha have asked 20 questions in a letter to Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of 2day FM, whose DJs, including Mel Greig, made the call
Both letters – which have been seen by The Mail on Sunday – were sent by Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is acting as a spokesman for the family at their request.
In a letter to John Lofthouse, the hospital’s chief executive, Mr Vaz wrote: ‘On December 11 the family handed you a list of questions that specifically relate to the hospital. They have not had a written confirmation of the answers. They now have additional questions [and] would like answers . . . as soon as possible.’
Husband Benedict Barboza consoles his daughter Lisha during the burial of nurse Jacintha Saldanha at her hometown Shirva, near Mangalore in southwest India
The questions suggest the hospital may not have taken extra security measures during the Duchess’s stay. The family also ask: ‘Was there any indication that Jacintha was under increased pressure or stress in the weeks preceding her death?’
One question suggests Ms Saldanha may have been involved in a dispute with a colleague a few weeks before the Duchess was admitted. Another implies that the 46-year-old, whose body was discovered on December 7, may have been ‘spoken to’ by the hospital’s matron by telephone a day after the prank call.
The letter to Southern Cross Austereo asks if there is ‘any evidence’ that 2Day FM staff called the hospital five times to alert them that they were about to broadcast the prank. The letter also questions why no staff at the station or parent company have attempted to contact the family since the hoax call.
Ms Saldanha’s husband Benedict Barboza, son Junal and adopted daughter Lisha were greeted by Mr Vaz at Heathrow Airport yesterday on their return to Britain after the funeral of the nurse in India.
Southern Cross Austereo could not be reached for a comment.