Last week a media storm broke over the death of the nurse who took the prank call from the Aussie DJ’s who posed as members of the royal family. Since her suicide, social networks, newspapers and television have been baying for blood and the young celebrities who are in the spotlight have been the main target.

Unexpected death is always shocking, and when someone takes their own life, even more so. The overwhelming sense of waste is colossal, especially in this circumstance.

Someone once said: You can control your choices, but you can’t control the consequences of  your choices.

There are a lot of choices involved here.

It’s very popular in Australia to ring a victim and pretend to be someone else, and then to air the resulting, often hilarious conversation that ensues. Even people who aren’t Aussies respond with hilarity and disbelief at some of the conversations aired online and via YouTube. One of the key players of this genre is Guido Hatzis, an Italian Aussie who has mastered this type of humour to a fine art and led the way for many others to follow in his wake.

So when two young and lesser known Australian DJs decided to enter the ring with their own version, taking advantage of the intense public interest in the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy, who would have thought that their stunt would end up so tragically. Certainly not them. A recent TV interview with the pair saw them to be stunned and distraught at the result of their (culturally speaking) relatively innocent action. How could they have possibly known how their publicity stunt would end up?

The truth is, we’ve all played jokes on other people, and every now and then, we’ve all suffered the humiliation or shock of that joke backfiring and we either look like a fool… or worse, we’ve ended up causing some real damage.

Look at the other choice involved. A nurse took a phone call in the middle of the night because the reception closes after office hours. She believed the callers’ identities and put the phone call through to the duty nurse in the Duchess of Cambridge’s ward. That’s the sum total of her involvement. She didn’t give any information about the patient, nor was she or the other nurse rebuked for being fooled by the press. After all, it happens to everyone in the public eye.

Jacintha Saldanha was a wife and the mother of two young sons. She was a described as an excellent nurse who was working away from home at King Edward VII hospital. She made a choice too, and it’s that choice which has set the media alight. In choosing to be overwhelmed by the shame of what was actually just a crass and stupid prank, Jacintha has changed the lives of her  own family and others forever. It’s very difficult to understand why an apparently intelligent and balanced woman would find the shame of her situation crushing enough to take her own life.

Different cultures respond differently to the same stimuli. Where the Royal family and the hospital itself have taken the events leading up to the death of Ms. Saldanha as the predictable and idiotic actions of a royalty obsessed media, a great nurse found the shame of being involved more than she could bear.

Is that something the DJs should be punished for?

You can control your choices but you can’t control the consequences of your choices.

Ultimately, it was the choice made by Jacintha Saldanha that has changed everything. Her children will grow up without their mother. She’ll never see their successes in school or the young women they want to marry, and from this time forward, they will forever be without their mother. It’s very hard to understand why she would give all that up because of a stupid prank that bore no personal repercussions to her or anyone else.

Paparazzi
It’s also the choice made on behalf of the voracious appetites of a public which is never satiated in its desire to hear more, know more, have more of their celebrities’ lives. The media merely acts as the middleman between the obsessions of people whose lives are so small that they need to know every detail in the life of someone else whom they figure to be richer, smarter, somehow intrinsically more valuable than themself. There is no other explanation for the success of such puerile and inane pig swill as Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Yes, we all have the right to make our own choices but in thinking about what we will do, it’s worth remembering that whatever we choose will have its own consequences. Though we may not be able to foresee what those consequences may be, we do have the ability to gauge which direction our consequences will take us.