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Hospital: Duchess of Cambridge hoax nurse blamed herself, needed more support

The death of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who answered a prank call from Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen to get information about Kate Middleton, was officially ruled a suicide.

By Gabrielle Levy
The nurse who hanged herself after falling victim to a prank over the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital stay blamed herself and needed support, an inquest found. UPI/Rune Hellestad
The nurse who hanged herself after falling victim to a prank over the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital stay blamed herself and needed support, an inquest found. UPI/Rune Hellestad | License Photo

LONDON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The nurse who hanged herself after falling victim to a prank over the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital stay in 2012 blamed herself and needed more support, an inquest found.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead several days after she received a call from two Australian radio DJs pretending to be the queen and Prince Charles, and passed the call on to the nurse who was caring for Catherine, then experiencing severe morning sickness.

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At London high court Friday, the former chief executive of the King Edward VII Hospital said the hospital could have done more to help Saldanha after the phone call aired and created a sensation.

"This was a significant event, I wouldn't by surprised by the fact that Jacintha or the nurse was embarrassed by it, they had been hoaxed and it had been broadcast around the world," said John Lofthouse.

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Saldanha went to work the day after the call and worked a 12-hour shift, sending several emails to a colleague and the hospital matron apologizing.

"It's all my fault. I don't know how to face my bosses tomorrow," the email to the colleague said, according to Sarah le Fevere, a lawyer representing the Metropolitan Police. "I feel so ashamed of myself."

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She also emailed the nurse, who said she did not realize the call was a hoax until one of the DJs pretending to be the queen joked to the other about walking the corgis.

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"I am terribly sorry for transferring the call to you. At that moment, in the time, with that voice, I couldn't even think of anything else," she wrote to the nurse. "It's all my fault and I feel very bad about this and getting you involved. Please accept my apologies. If there was anything I could do to mend it, I would do it but it's all in their hands."

"A meeting was arranged for the following Monday morning to allow things to settle, whereby to sit down with Jacintha and other to go through what happened, understand from their perspective and what adjustments to protocol might be made," Lofthouse said.

The nurse the hospital's human resources to cancel a training session, leaving a voicemail. She was found the next day.

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The inquest returned a verdict of suite.

"The hoax call was clearly pressing on her mind," said Coroner Dr. Fiona Wilcox.

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