Words Spoken in “fun” Result in a Suicide

It was just supposed to be good fun. Something to entertain their audience with a laugh. And, besides, they really doubted that it would work. Surely the receptionist at King Edward VII hospital in London, who answered their call at 5:30 a.m., would recognize their Australian accent. But the impersonation of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles by Aussie DJs Mel Greig and Michel Christian of 2Day FM fooled both the nurse/receptionist, Jacintha Saldanha, and the ward nurse who gave out a personal health update about the Duchess of Cambridge’s acute morning sickness.

I can imagine Greig and Christian high-fiving each other while on the air, for successfully pulling off their hoax. Of course, they aren’t the first to pull off such a “royal” hoax. In 1995 Canadian DJ, Pierre Brassard, fooled the Queen into thinking he was the then Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, for about 15 minutes.

However, Greig and Christian put out a public apology for impersonating the royals and invading their privacy, probably at the prodding of their radio station’s management. But, they hadn’t thought about the possible repercussions that their “fun” might have had on the two nurses they had tricked.

The royals know they are the objects of pursuit by clever paparazzi who chase them in order to feed the ever-hungry, personality-driven entertainment media. So being people in the public eye means they know they must roll with unexpected and perhaps laugh along with it. However, sometimes the dance between publicity hunters and the celebrity hunted ends tragically, as it did with Princess Diana.

Ordinary people trying to do their jobs the best they can, like you or I, aren’t schooled in the art of being held up to public ridicule or mocking.  Sometimes words spoken in “fun” can be taken badly by the objects of that “fun.”

Today, we learned that one of the two nurses taken in by Mel Greig and Michel Christian’s hoax, Jacintha Saldanha, apparently committed suicide. Jacintha was a married woman with two children. Tragic. Sad. Heart-breaking. Who could have known she would take it so hard?  Who could have known that words spoken in “fun” by another could hurt so much that it would cause such a reaction.

The royals William and Kate say they didn’t complain and have publicly said they are “deeply saddened” by this apparent suicide. The hospital management said they had been trying to help the two nurses through this difficult situation.

Unfortunately, words can and do kill even if the intention was all in jest. As the Apostle Paul once pointed out:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29 King James Version).

This was the error of the Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michel Christian of 2Day FM. They spoke a corrupt communication with a deceptive purpose. I’m sure they regret the whole thing. From their pictures these two are quite young, which means they’ll have a long time to think about what they did.

It is easy to say the wrong thing, or to say something the other person takes the wrong way. Or maybe what is said is right, but the timing is all-wrong. The end result is that someone is hurt even if our intention was just to have a bit of “fun.”

How hard it is to ensure that what comes out of our mouths “minsters grace unto the hearers.” But this is the goal we all should have. When we speak and when we listen to our friends speak, let’s keep in mind the vital importance of considering the consequences of what we say. Unfortunately Greig and Christian didn’t help each other out in this way.

The right word at the right time 
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
and a wise friend’s timely reprimand 
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger (Proverbs 25:11-12 The Message).

 

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