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Australian DJ behind royal prank spent years battling ‘suicidal thoughts’

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A

n Australian radio DJ who made an ill-fated prank call to a British nurse days before she took her own life has said she spent the ensuing years “battling” for her life and struggling against “suicidal thoughts”.

Mel Greig had been working at Sydney’s 2Day FM when she and colleague Mike Christian rang King Edward VII Hospital in London “to see how quickly we could get hung up on” and “to our surprise, we were immediately transferred to the private nurse of the Duchess (of Cambridge)”.

Pretending to be the Queen and the Prince of Wales, the DJs had duped nurse Jacintha Saldanha into putting their call through to a colleague who revealed confidential details about Kate.

Michael Christian and Mel Greig made a hoax call to the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge during her first pregnancy in 2012 (PA) / PA Media

The second nurse told the DJs that Kate was suffering from severe morning sickness while she was pregnant with Prince George.

The prank call went viral and several days later in December 2012, Ms Saldanha had taken her own life and left three suicide notes, one of which blamed the Australian DJs.

Ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the tragedy, Ms Greig said she was left feeling deeply traumatised and feeling “unbearable” guilt over the 46-year-old’s death, which led to her harbouring “suicidal thoughts”.

The former DJ said she was also labelled a “murderer” by the global press and struggled to find work.

The funeral service of nurse Jacintha Saldanha at her hometown Shirva, near Mangalore in southwest India (PA) / PA Archive

In an opinion piece for Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), Ms Greig said the hoax left her a “broken woman”.

“A family lost their wife and mother and to be accused of playing a role in taking her life was beyond devastating,” she said.

“Online trolls told me to kill myself every day, no one would employ me. Charities wouldn’t even let me stuff envelopes behind the scenes. I was a tarnished and broken woman.”

As a result of becoming known as the “Royal prank DJ”, Ms Greig described losing friends, jobs, opportunities, confidence and her identity.

I was a tarnished and broken woman.

Two years after Ms Saldanha’s death, a London coroner attributed it partly to the pressure of the hoax and difficulties she had been experiencing with a colleague at the hospital.

In September 2014, Dr Fiona Wilcox found that the nurse’s death was not foreseeable and that she was appropriately supported by her workplace after she was duped into believing Ms Greig was the Queen enquiring after the duchess.

At the inquest, Ms Greig was granted permission to address the court and Ms Saldanha’s family.

“I am so sorry for your loss. I have wanted to say that to you for so long,” she told them.

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116123 or email [email protected]

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