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Nurse radio hosts pranked to get royal baby details commits suicide

 

An ill-advised stunt by a pair of Australian shock jocks took a tragic turn when a nurse they tricked in order to get confidential information about the royal baby committed suicide.

Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at King Edward VII Hospital, where pregnant Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was being treated for morning sickness, was the butt of the cruel joke. The now-suspended deejays, posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, coaxed Saldanha into transferring them for an update on the condition of Middleton, wife of Prince William. On Friday, officials announced Saldanha had taken her life.

"Police were called at approximately 9:35 a.m. this morning to a report of a woman found  unconscious,” a Scotland Yard spokesman said. "London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.”

The death is not being treated as suspicious at this time, the spokesman said. Officials did not immediately say if there was as suicide note or if Saldanha's death was directly linked to the hoax, which generated widespread outrage in Great Britain.

"SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy."

- Southern Cross Austereo

The Royal Family released a statement shortly afterward, expressing sorrow that the caregiver had taken her life.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," the Royal Family said in a statement. "Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

Saldanha had worked at the hospital for four years, according to hospital officials. Lord Glenarthur, chairman of the hospital, characterized Saldanha as a “first-class” nurse who diligently cared for hundreds of patients.

“She will be greatly missed,” Glenarthur said.

"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends,” read a statement by the hospital's chief executive, John Lofthouse. “Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much loved and valued colleague."

The radio personalities behind the stunt, 2Day FM's Mel Greig and Michael Christian, pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in a ruse early Tuesday to trick the woman. Both Greig and Christian, who apologized for the prank the following day, had deleted their Twitter accounts as of Friday and will not return to the airwaves "until further notice," according to a statement obtained by FoxNews.com.

"Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII’s Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world," the statement read.

"Chief Executive Officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances," the statement continued. "SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy."

St. James's Palace announced Monday that the Duchess of Cambridge — formerly Middleton — had a severe form of morning sickness and was being treated at a London hospital with Prince William at her side.

The couple's first child will be third in line to the throne — behind William and his father, Prince Charles — leapfrogging the gregarious Prince Harry and possibly setting up the first scenario in which a female heir could benefit from new gender rules about succession.

Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a clinical psychologist at Emory University and the president-elect of the American Psychologist Association, told FoxNews.com the prank call may have been the “final straw” that led Saldanha to take her own life.

“Obviously there are typically lots of reasons someone ends up taking their life, but it’s not uncommon for there to be some final straw,” Kaslow said. “It’s certainly possible that for someone being duped or shamed.”

FoxNews.com's Joshua Rhett Miller and The Associated Press contributed to this report.