As dawn broke in London this morning, half way around the world here in Sydney, another day was ending in the tragic tale of the prank call that severely missed its mark.
While you were sleeping, there has been action to assure this never happens again. The Radio Network, Austereo has suspended all advertising until further notice, they have pulled the Hot 30 show off the air for good. They instituted a company-wide ban on prank phone calls, (traditionally a staple of all Australian FM radio shows), and are placing all company policies under review.
But the biggest news that came to light while you were sleeping was that the two Australian radio DJs at the centre of this storm finally broke their silence. The pair, in the face of immense public persecution bravely took part in a tough interview on Australia's premier Nightly News and Public Affairs programme, Channel Seven's Today Tonight. But it was their blank faces that gave away more than their answers ever possibly could.
These two young lives have clearly been broken. These two young lives are suffering. These two young lives I hope are not beyond saving. I honestly fear for the safety and wellbeing of these two kids and when you see this interview, you will as well. I am certain it will be played on British television in the next few hours... When you watch it, you will see just how traumatised these radio hosts are, and hopefully, you will regret the attacks on them over the weekend by both the Australian and British Media.
There is a shame that runs parallel alongside the tragedy of this nurse's death. There is a shame that is just as horrific as any that has befallen her or her family. It is a shame of equal sorrow and of equal sadness.
It is the treatment that these two young radio DJs have received by the hospital, the public, and the media. These two DJs are now also the victims and they are hurting. They look as if they are two tormented souls. They obviously feel as if they have caused this tragic death, this is evident in the interview. Never in my time have I ever seen two people's faces more wracked with guilt or more riddled with remorse.
Look... No one could have ever predicted that this would happen. Certainly no one ever wanted this to happen. But at the end of the day... It DID happen and while it is a tragedy, it is a tragedy that is no-one's fault.
Shouldn't we be giving comfort to these two young DJs, not condemning them to a lifetime of pain, guilt and anguish?
It's an abhorrent, cruel and twisted irony that these two DJs are being chastised for bullying and humiliating this nurse in public... Because we now all stand guilty for doing the same.
Please, this is a call for the media at large, for the public, for the internet trolls, and for the cyber bullies... Call off your dogs. For these two young journalists, they have suffered enough, they will suffer for the rest of their lives.
Alexander Pope said, "to err is human, to forgive divine." So isn't it time we forgive and show that most unique and sacred of all human emotions... Isn't it time we show compassion?
I have been conflicted as a journalist in writing this. In fact, I almost didn't.
If you haven't noticed... Unlike my colleagues, I am refusing to name this nurse and I am refusing to name these DJs. A small and insignificant gesture I know... But it is a sign of respect of what we should be doing. As journalists, some of the first rules we learn are to "always be objective" and to "never report on suicide".
Here in this story, we have broken both. Where is the objectivity? Unless you live on Mars, you'll see that every news headline the world over is telling these DJs that they have 'blood on their hands'.
While it is extremely hard not to report on suicide when it is a celebrity who takes their own life, when it is a private citizen, suicide is meant to remain unreported. The reasoning behind this is not to encourage others drowning in emptiness and despair to seek the same attention for themselves.
According to the Office of National Statistics, 5,608 people committed suicide in the United Kingdom in 2010, the most recently reported year. Think back to how many of those sad stories made front page news?
It is morally bankrupt and completely unforgivable how we have turned this story into a media circus, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We're reporting this story as if it is some abstract tabloid fodder, like it is a fictional soap opera unfolding right before our eyes.
In reality, we are talking about real people's lives. There are family, friends and colleagues of this nurse who are trying desperately to find answers. There is also the guilt, pain and suffering of the two DJ's who are being used by a sadistic world press as some kind of scapegoats.
I appreciate the fact that in times of tragedy we look for answers. I know we look for reasons why and we look for someone to blame. Unfortunately, these two young DJs are the ones being hung out to dry. Punished for a crime they didn't commit with the world's press just pouring petrol on the fire.
Logically we all know... These DJs did NOT kill this woman. Yet we are blaming them for her death anyway. Isn't that the real crime? These two young people are at the start of their careers. Imagine their pride being made hosts of this show just weeks ago, now... They face a future where they will never work in media again... They face a future where they will be traumatised for the rest of their lives. They face a future where they will forever feel guilt. For them, while we all move onto the next story, this will be a wound that will never heal.
It's that penance enough without the world calling them killers?
Imagine if it was a member of your family? What would you say? I know... It would be along the lines of;
"It is not your fault... You cannot kill a person with a phone call."
This nurse, in my opinion, must have been an already troubled woman. The reason why she took her own life... No one will ever know. But I do know it would not have been because of a prank phone call. I will admit, the stress this prank phone call caused could have been the last straw, the trigger that finally saw her take her own life. It is this reason why those two radio DJs are now suffering, and this is the same reason why we should comfort them.
If they never made that phone call, maybe she would be alive today... That is what the two DJs are living with. Could you ever possibly imagine having that albatross hanging around your neck? However, even if the DJ's never made that phone call... This nurse may still have died, because this was only ever the trigger, not the reason for her killing herself.
This nurse could have easily been one of those 5,608 people that didn't make the papers in 2010. Something else could have driven her to take her life that day. A fight with her boss, her husband, even fear of losing her job, crashing a car... Who knows? All we know is this nurse must have been suffering in silence.
This nurse was deeply troubled, she should not have died, and we all wish that she didn't; however wishing won't change the fact that she is gone. Just as blaming these DJs won't bring her back.
These two young DJs committed a prank, that had the worst possible outcome anything could ever have and they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives. We should be comforting them at this dark time. We should not be beating this up into a sensationalised story, painting them as villains.
Do not make this brave nurse's life all about this phone call. Do not let her legacy on this earth be an immature prank that went wrong. She has a grieving husband and two children that will grow up without a mother. She has a mother herself in India who has had to suffer the worse experience on this earth, being a parent who outlives their child.
So let her children, her husband, her family and friends memories of her be pleasant ones. Let her colleagues celebrate the wonderful work as a care giver that she used to provide. Let us look at making life better for nurses so that they are not worked to breaking point.
Let us forgive these DJs. Let us offer them comfort during this tragedy, and most of all... Let us stop blaming these kids for something they didn't do... It is not their fault.
I bet you there is one more angel in Heaven tonight. And she is saying exactly the same thing.
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