When Pranks Go Wrong: How did the British Media Report the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha?

Authors: Luce, A.

Conference: International Association of Suicide Prevention World Congress

Dates: 24-27 September 2013


In December 2012, two Australian DJs pranked Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s hospital where she was being treated for severe morning sickness, pretending to be the Queen. What started out as a harmless radio prank resulted in the suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha. The reporting of this prank in the British media was initially one of embarrassment on behalf of King Edward VII Hospital, but following Saldanha’s suicide, turned into one of outrage and fury. The reporting followed the same discursive categories to that of the Bridgend suicides in South Wales back in 2008: reaction to death by those left behind, reason for death, description of the deceased, infantilisation and suicide and Internet usage. This paper will unpack those categories in relation to the DJ prank and discuss how these categories can be used to encourage more responsible reporting of suicide in the media.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Ann Luce

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