Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who committed suicide after answering a hoax phone call about Kate Middleton, made two attempts to kill herself last winter and had been prescribed antidepressants.
Jacintha Saldanha, who took her own life days after the call from Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, attempted to commit suicide last December with an overdose of pills during a family visit to India.
She survived after being rushed to hospital but tried to commit suicide again just nine days later by apparently jumping from a building.
Jacintha 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 Jacintha 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.
Jacintha Saldanha was found hanged with a scarf at her living quarters at the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Central London on December 7.
Three days earlier, Jacintha Saldanha was the duty nurse who answered the prank call from Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and transferred it to a colleague.
That nurse revealed confidential medical information about pregnant Kate Middleton, 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 Jacintha 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 yesterday they had passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether any offences had been committed.
Mel Greig and Michael 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 Jacintha 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, Jacintha Saldanha, her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, 49, their son Junal, 17, and adopted daughter Lisha, 14, attended a family wedding in Shirva, 30 miles north of Mangalore. But on December 30, just days after the devout Catholic family celebrated Christmas, Jacintha 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.
Jacintha Saldanha 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.
Her 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.
Last night, 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.
Mr. Saldanha said Jacintha spoke to her husband by telephone on the evening of the prank call, which was made at 5.30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 4, but did not tell him about her involvement. He added that she spoke to her husband and children twice the following day, but still did not reveal anything, though she told Benedict Barboza to watch the news.
Mr. Saldanha said he believes his sister did not tell her family in the UK or India about the hoax as she felt ashamed.
Benedict Barboza became slightly concerned when his wife did not call on Thursday, December 6, but believed she was busy with nursing classes.
On Friday morning, he called a colleague of Jacintha Saldanha to check on his wife. Hours later, he was told of her death by officers from Avon and Somerset Police.
Last week, the body of Jacintha Saldanha was flown back to India and buried according to her wishes in the village of Shirva.