The nurse who killed herself after the prank phone call in England was buried. Thank you to my library, the Pima County Public Library in answering my query about whether her suicide was cultural. Judge for yourselves.
Dear Mr. Charton,
Thank you for your question to Ask A Librarian about the tragic death of the nurse in Australia after she was duped by radio talk show hosts to forward a call to a royal couple staying in her hospital.
You question is a tricky one in that we have, even after all this time, little solid information about the life and habits of the nurse, Jacintha Saldanha. Her body was however returned to India for burial in a Catholic cemetery after a Catholic church service. In as much as her faith was part of her personal culture, the Catholic Church strongly discourages suicide.
In as much as Ms. Saldanha remained connected to her Indian culture, and again we have no knowledge of how deep this connection may have run, she may have been aware of two trends in India–one ancient and one modern that do unfortunately turn to suicide as an “out” in shameful or embarrassing or highly emotional situations.
In the modern case, India is witnessing a rising rate of suicide among male farmers due to financial ruin and the shame that follows from this for a man expected to support his family. Here is a news item on this development: http://news.yahoo.com/government-says-15-suicides-hour-india-081117712.html
India as a whole faces a disturbing problem with suicide levels, more so in some provinces than others: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/15-commit-suicide-every-hour-in-india-majority-victims-married-report-144576
The ancient precedent for suicide more so for women is Sati, whereby a Hindu widow more often before the turn of the 20th century might throw herself onto the burning funeral pyre of her husband to leave earthly life along with him. An article explaining this practice can be read here: http://adaniel.tripod.com/sati.htm This is explained as a practice more of the north rather than the southwest provinces, such as Karnataka, from which Ms. Saldanha hailed.
We may never really know what motivated her to commit suicide unless the notes she left behind are published. One can presume that in them she explains to some extent her thinking and reasons for taking the action she does. There are other than the above, no overarching social, personal, or cultural reasons we can ascertain for her taking the drastic decision she did.
Thank you for using our Ask a Librarian service.
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