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No prank this! Jacintha had suicidal tendencies

Ronald Anil Fernandes, Mangalore, Dec 21, 2012, DHNS: 1:51 IST

Tried to kill herself twice while on holiday in Mangalore last Xmas

The tragic story of Jacintha Saldanha, who committed suicide in her nursing staff quarters in London on December 7, may have much deeper roots than just the humiliation she suffered at the hands of the two Australian Radio DJs two days earlier, on December 5.

Eleven months before she ended her life, Jacintha had developed suicidal tendencies. She had attempted suicide twice, once on December 30, 2011, and the second time on January 8, 2012, while she was in Mangalore/Shirva on a visit to India for Christmas, according to credible information available with Deccan Herald.

On the first occasion, she is believed to have been rushed to a private hospital in Mangalore for treatment after she attempted “self-harm” on December 30. It isn’t clear if she had consumed some poisonous substance then.

On the second occasion on January 8, however, she was rushed to the city-based Father Muller Medical College Hospital with head injuries following a “fall.” The injury was also causing loss of consciousness for a few seconds at a time. The doctors attending to her diagnosed her with having a “depressive disorder” caused by a history of stress, though they did not have reliable information about the history. Her mood was one of “sadness,” and she suffered from decreased sleep for more than 15 days, because of which she made “two attempts of deliberate self-harm.”

With her mental condition in such a depressed state (exhibiting death wish, so to say) – unwilling to establish eye-to-eye contact with others, difficulty in establishing rapport, and her decreased volume of talk, tone and increased reaction time, doctors referred Jacintha to psychiatrists on January 10.

“The patient was taken over by psychiatry on January 10 in view of suicidal risk,” according to information with Deccan Herald. Subsequently, she was under psychiatric treatment at the hospital for four days. At the time of her discharge on January 13, her condition had considerably improved. She was in a “happy” mood, and her psychometer activity was “normal.”

But while discharging her, the doctors explained to her family attendants that there existed “the risk of deliberate self-harm and the need for 24-hour supervision. The patient party was also advised to administer medication.”

Informed sources said her medication continued till September. But, it is clear that she was not under constant supervision of family members as she lived at the nurse staff quarters alone, while her husband and children lived in Bristol, UK.

It appeared that her suicidal tendencies reappeared after the prank calls from the Australian radio DJs. This, it appeared, was an aggravating factor. However, it is not known what had caused the depressive state of mind in the first place when she made the two “self-harm” attempts while on Christmas visit to India last December-January.

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