Harmless Prank Led to Suicide? No way!

Michael Christianson & Mel Grieg, Australian radio shock jocks (2012)-2I don’t get this story! As a person with a God-given damn good sense of humor, as one who knows the difference between a harmless prank and a seemingly dangerous one, and as a radio personality (but NOT a shock jock), I don’t understand why Australian radio shock jocks Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25 are (seemingly) all torn up over the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, the hospital nurse and mother of two teens, who took the simply harmless (repeat …HARMLESS…) prank 30-second phone call to Duchess of Cambridge Catherine “Kate” Middleton’s hospital room last week (Thursday, December 6, 2012).  (Click here for video story.)

What has not yet been determined is why Saldanha took her own life.  As the investigation into Saldanha’s suicide continues and in light of the negative press, the management of the radio station where Greig and Christian are employed have taken their show off the air and suspended the two jocks – at least for the time being.  I don’t think they were fired, as some reports say.  Under the circumstances of this story, considering what the jocks are paid to do and certain other legal issues, it is highly unlikely that the jocks were terminated – especially so soon – and without the completion of a thorough investigation. Furthermore, the action of taking a show off the air and issuing a temporary suspension to Greig and Christian is normal business damage control procedure and is done in an effort to help take some of the heat or spotlight away from not only the jocks themselves but the radio station, its management and its owners.  With that said, take most of what you read in the press with a bit of caution.

Now, what I don’t understand is why there are people there and around the world, including the two jocks themselves, upset over this suicide incident. In asking this question, I don’t believe I’m being insensitive. I think if anyone should be upset over an apparent suicide it ought to be Saldanha’s children and family, friends and co-workers – since any suicide is unexpected and shocking.  I will never believe Greig and Christian did anything to directly or indirectly trigger Saldanha’s suicide.  News reports say that Saldanha was “humiliated” which may have led to her suicide. Really? No one is going to convince me that because she could not handle a little prank, Saldanha, a mother of two teenagers (and many teens, by their nature, are pranksters) and a nurse, felt it necessary to take her own life. Again, the investigation continues.

As with many suicides, the issue which often leads someone to take his or her own life usually runs deeper than it appears, regardless whether the person left a note or some other subtle indicator that they were suicidal.  And since none of those self-life takers can come back to argue me on this fact, I ask those still living, breathing and reading to this point to withhold judgment of my commentary until the end of the post.

Some things to consider:

  1. It is ALWAYS tragic when anyone feels the need to take his or her own life.  However, I make a special exception to those muthafuckas who choose to take the lives of others then kill themselves. I do NOT feel for murderers; only their victims, thus I hate the term “murder-suicide”; the word should be “murder-self-execution.”
  2. Australian radio jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian are SHOCK JOCKS…and with such a title, I, like most people who listen to a variety of radio, are left to presume they are in the same league as many other radio shock jocks known around the world (famed shock jock Howard Stern comes to mind). Greig and Christian planned a radio show for their morning program. They had already received the “ok” to do the prank call from station management. Where the British monarchy is concerned, such permission would be needed if for no other reason than to cover everyone’s ass (or arse, as the Brits and Aussies prefer to say).
    * SIDENOTE:  A little tidbit about morning radio programs.  While many radio shows sound impromptu, most of them are indeed planned.  And the longer a morning team works together, the better the chemistry between each person on that team is.  Of course, there are periods where improvisation takes place but again that is the beauty of the team chemistry which always makes for a great show. Thus, what you hear on radio is often a seamless program!
  3. Call it my opinion (as is most shit in this blog) but anyone who listened to the prank call – which was repeated around the world that day and days afterwards – would have to admit that NOTHING in the call itself was even offensive nor particularly “shocking”. Thirty (30) seconds is hardly enough time for any person of sane and stable mind to commit suicide! It is assumed that Jacintha Saldanha was carefully screened by British security and found to be mentally stable and “safe enough” to be employed as a nurse in the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated.  If there was an indication that Saldanha was mentally ill, suicidal, or had personal issues that could or would pose a threat to any member of the royal family, she would have been removed from that hospital long before or immediately after the Duchess was admitted.  Again, the investigation continues!
  4. Anyone who intends to kill themselves or attempts suicide usually hesitates for at least a few moments – or longer – before actually going through with it. Obviously, I’m no expert on suicide (you reading this proves I’m alive – at least right now. LOL!) but in my time, I’ve either known about, have read about and/or listened to enough people who have considered suicide to know this to be true.  Again, I will NOT believe this harmless phone call prank caused Jacintha Saldanha – let alone anyone else – to commit suicide! Suicides are the result of much deeper personal issues!
  5. Shock jocks are humorists, if nothing else.  They say and do things which often might poke fun, embarrass, irritate or even outright anger some people. It’s simply what they do! But they also say and do things that are humorous and funny and make us laugh at our humanity. Shock jocks give cause for us to lighten up a bit from all the seriousness which tends to overtake our lives. Some of us could use a little joviality (in addition to just coffee and a donut) to kick-start our day! Far worse things have been said and/or done on radio, television, and the internet.  People need to relax.

People need to take responsibility for their own actions.  Really. It’s that simple. My Facebook friend Kris Avalon said it in a nutshell: No one can predict how fragile someone’s mindset is when you ask them certain questions or make jokes or pranks. Ever since 9/11 we have become so fucking paranoid about everything people say and do….” What Kris said is true! We cannot predict someone’s mindset. We also should not feel responsible for the harmful or tragic actions someone chooses to take against themselves simply because of things we may have done, said or written to or to them. That’s why this incident simply makes no sense.  Please, don’t misunderstand. I realize that certain things people say or do either are – or can be – offensive to others. That is NOT the situation with the Greig & Christian prank phone call issue or Jacintha Saldanha’s suicide.

Let’s be real: If Saldanha was psychologically unstable as to allow a prank phone call – or the publicity of such – to give her cause to immediately take her own life INSTEAD of simply taking a few personal days off from work to avoid any publicity, quit her job or go into hiding – but to actually KILL herself – then I say that she had no damn business working in a public service environment!

I also say: let’s stop with all the fake tears and fake concerns over this incident which was – and is – about nothing! I sympathize with Jacintha Saldanha’s family and other loved ones for their loss but I firmly stand by what I said earlier about her suicide being much deeper than what it appears. The suicide has to be the result of negative issues already accumulating and happening in HER life… NOT from some prank phone call from a couple of radio shock jocks!  I’d be willing to bet that is what the investigation is going to find. Saldanha’s suicide was both unpredictable and possibly unexpected (as is most suicides) and the result of bad timing – coming on the heels of a prank phone call made to Kate Middleton’s hospital room.  Under these circumstances, Australian radio jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian should not – in any way whatsoever – be held responsible for Saldanha’s death.

** Finally, suicide is a serious matter. Entertaining thoughts of taking your own life is a sign for a cry for help but nothing to be ashamed of. If you or someone you know, is in some emotional distress or considering suicide, P L E A S E call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). VETERANS: there is help for you, too! Call this same number and press 1 for Veterans. **

Keepin’ It…REAL!


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