Warning: This article discusses suicide. If you need help, contact Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or text 4357 (HELP).
Mel Greig has spoken of her ordeal 11 years after her royal prank call led to the suicide of British nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
Australian former radio host Greig opened up to 9Honey about her post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis and “mental breakdown” following the tragedy, revealing: “I thought everybody was trying to kill me.
“For three weeks I was so paranoid, I was hallucinating. I’d wake up and see people standing at the end of my bed,” she said.
Greig revealed she “ended up in a mental health recovery house” for a week following the breakdown, and was diagnosed with delayed PTSD.
Mel Greig and Mike Christian’s prank call to Kate Middleton’s hospital
Greig and her former co-host Mike Christian of 2Day FM prank called the hospital where now-Princess Kate was taken during her first pregnancy with Prince George.
Saldanha picked up the phone and spoke with them briefly before transferring the pair, who impersonated the late Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II, to the nurse caring for Kate.
The call aired on December 5, 2012, after being given the go-ahead by 2Day FM’s lawyers.
Saldanha was found dead by suicide two days later at the age of 46, survived by her husband and two children. Her death prompted grief around the world and outrage at the radio station, with even Prince William writing a personal letter of condolence to Saldanha’s husband Benedict Barboza.
Mel Greig diagnosed with PTSD after royal prank call tragedy
Greig, who says she was traumatised by Saldanha’s death, faced constant trolling and threats online in the aftermath - so much so that she left her job in radio and moved to the Gold Coast to start afresh.
However, she struggled to find work because of the coverage of the tragedy, revealing: “I just wanted to be a normal person. I didn’t want anyone to know who I was. I started a normal job, I just wanted to live a normal life without the questions.
“I did that by trying to suppress it. I didn’t talk about it, I didn’t own it, I felt a lot of shame for it, especially when people did recognise me.”
Six months ago, she began experiencing paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis, saying she would wake up and see figures who “wanted to kill her”. Greig was then taken to a mental health recovery facility to address the 11-year toll the tragedy had taken on her.
Greig was diagnosed with PTSD about four months ago and is now determined to talk openly about mental health to help others.
“I still get messages like, ‘Have you washed the blood off your hands?’, ‘You’re a murderer’,” she reveals, adding, “People don’t know my story and what I’ve been through … I’m going to use it to help other people.”
Saldanha’s family has shared a few statements in the years since her death.
Her daughter Janice Pinto told WHO Magazine in 2017 that she hopes to make her mother proud, revealing that she misses hearing her voice on the phone “every day”.