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by: Abul Taher
December 23, 2012 12:50PM
THE nurse who committed suicide after answering a hoax phone call about the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly made two attempts to kill herself a year ago and had been prescribed antidepressants.
Jacintha Saldanha, who took her own life days after the call from Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, attempted to commit suicide in December 2011 during a family visit to India, according to reports in Indian media.
She survived after being rushed to hospital but tried to commit suicide again just nine days later.
Ms Saldanha, 46, spent several days in intensive care before receiving psychiatric treatment and being prescribed a course of powerful antidepressants for nine months.
Along with the previous suicide attempts, reported in an Indian newspaper, members of Ms Saldanha’s family have revealed that the nurse was so ashamed after taking the hoax call earlier this month that she did not tell her husband or children about it before her death, despite speaking to them by phone several times.
Ms Saldanha was found dead at her living quarters at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Central London on December 7.
Three days earlier, Ms Saldanha was the duty nurse who answered the prank call from 2DayFM hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and transferred it to a colleague.
That nurse revealed confidential medical information about the pregnant Duchess, who was being treated at the hospital for acute morning sickness. The call was broadcast in Australia and made headlines around the world.
Yet the closest Ms Saldanha came to telling her husband she was at the centre of the story was when she told him to watch the news, claimed family members in her home town of Mangalore, southern India.
“The first her husband knew that she was the victim of the hoax call was when police told him she was dead. Nobody in the family knew,” said her younger brother Naveen Saldanha, 42.
“They spoke several times that week but she did not tell him or the kids anything about it.”
The latest insight into the nurse’s state of mind came as British police confirmed they had passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether any offences had been committed.
Ms Greig and Mr Christian could be charged with attempting to obtain medical details by deception.
Further charges could be brought against Australian radio station 2Day FM if it is found to have broadcast the prank without the permission of the participants.
Although Ms Saldanha’s family have previously said she did not have a history of depression, new reports suggest she has been battling the condition since at least December last year.
That month, Ms Saldanha, her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, 49, their son Junal, 17, and adopted daughter Lisha, 14, attended a family wedding in Shirva, north of Mangalore.
But on December 30, just days after the devout Catholic family celebrated Christmas, Ms Saldanha is believed to have taken an overdose of pills. She was rushed to a private hospital in Mangalore, where she was treated for “self-harm”.
On January 8 this year, she is believed to have attempted suicide again and was treated at Father Muller Medical College Hospital for head injuries suffered in a “fall”.
She was kept in intensive care for several days and then admitted to the psychiatric ward of the hospital, where she was treated for depression. She was discharged three days later and given a nine-month course of anti-depressants. Her family was warned there was a risk that she may attempt suicide again.
Ms Saldanha’s medication would have finished in September. It is not known if she was prescribed any more or if staff at King Edward VII’s knew of her fragile condition.
Her brother, an engineer in Mangalore, said: “We didn’t know about the first incident, but we knew about the second incident at Father Muller.’”
He refused to give further details.