Station losing ad revenue after suicide
Major Australian companies have pulled advertising from a Sydney-based radio station whose prank call to a London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge has been linked to the suspected suicide of a nurse and mother of two.
Australia’s biggest supermarket chain, Coles, and the country’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, withdrew their advertising from 2dayFM following mounting outrage, leading the station temporarily to suspend all advertising.
However, the presenters responsible for the call, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have received support from some quarters, with some Australian newspapers claiming that the British media are fomenting outrage following the death of Jacintha Saldanha.
Dublin-born psychiatrist Prof Patrick McGorry from the University of Melbourne said suicide was unlikely to be caused by one factor alone: “I feel sorry for [the presenters] because they obviously had no intention of causing any harm. Blame is hardly ever useful.”
Demanding that the station abandon prank calls, the chairman of King Edward VII hospital, Lord Glenarthur, said: “I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated.”
He said the decision by the station’s lawyers to clear the pre-recorded call, answered by Ms Saldanha before she put it through to a colleague, was “truly appalling”.
Ms Saldanha, though she had not been named publicly, disciplined, or complainedabout by the royals, had apparently been a rather timid, nervous woman, though one who was highly rated as a nurse by the hospital and colleagues.
Urging people with problems to talk them through with others, the Samaritans said suicide was complex: “Although a catalyst may appear to be obvious, suicide is never the result of a single factor or event and is likely to have several inter-related causes.”
Samaritans chief executive Catherine Johnstone said: “Each suicide is a tragedy. Sometimes people get to a point where they feel they can’t cope, where it all gets too much to handle. People can feel worthless, trapped in their situation with no way out, and that the future holds nothing good for them. It’s worse if people feel they are alone.”
Meanwhile, the presenters are said to be extremely distressed and are receiving counselling. Both, it is reported, have said that they want to “express their remorse publicly”.
The station has received two verdicts against it by the Australian communications regulator. In 2009, a 14-year-old-girl was questioned on air about whether she was sexually active. When she said she had been raped aged 12, the station’s “shock jock” Kyle Sandilands said: “Right, and is that the only sexual experience you’ve had?”