The apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who inadvertently put through a prank call to the hospital ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying, has provoked outrage, sadness and demands for retribution in all corners of the media.
The tragedy has revived memories of previous practical jokes that have gone horribly wrong, but also stirred an already febrile debate on ethical boundaries, whether in the mainstream or social media, and what, if any, legal recourse should be available to people humiliated or taunted in public.
Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, was found dead Friday -- three days after Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian of 2DayFM placed a call to the King Edward VII hospital in the UK, where the duchess was being treated for morning sickness. They pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.
A statement on the radio station's website said: "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."
Rhys Holleran, CEO of the company that owns the radio station, said Saturday the DJs were "deeply shattered" by what occurred. "This is a tragic event that could not have been reasonably foreseen and we are deeply saddened by it," he said of Saldanha's death.
Many media organizations played the audio tape of the prank call in part or its entirety.
CNN broadcast part of it -- but not the segment where a nurse in the ward briefly discussed details of the duchess's condition.
Of the three major broadcasters in the United Kingdom, neither Sky News nor the BBC played the call. ITN played a clip that included the voice of Saldanha (but did not identify her) on several newscasts. It didn't really matter whether the major broadcasters aired the tape; the whole conversation was widely available online via YouTube.
Before Saldanha's apparent suicide, the chief executive of the hospital, John Lofthouse, had already condemned the prank, saying, "I think this whole thing is pretty deplorable, our nurses are caring, professional people trained to look after patients, not to cope with journalistic trickery of this sort."
And trickery seems to go the heart of the issue.
2DayFM has a history of public humiliation. In 2009, a 14-year-old girl was tricked into acknowledging that she had been raped at the age of 12 -- only to be asked by a DJ: "Is that the only experience you've had?"
That led the Australian Communications and Media Authority to censure the station -- saying the broadcast did not meet standards of decency. The station said it had provided the teenager with counseling and vowed "to prevent anything similar from happening again."
But 2DayFM has been the subject of several inquiries since; and this year was told it "must not broadcast material that demeans or is likely to demean women or girls" as a condition of keeping its license.
That followed a broadcast in which a female journalist was called a derogatory term and told "to watch your mouth or I'll hunt you down" by DJ Kyle Sandilands. The incident provoked a campaign to persuade advertisers to boycott the show, but 2DayFM was not fined and Sandilands kept his job. He even interviewed Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in July.
After its latest prank, 2DayFM's website boasted about the "Biggest Royal Prank Ever," but in the UK, Daily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon said it was "not so funny to hear two grown adults call up a hospital ward full of sick people to try to scam information about one of them."
"What Christian and Greig did was borderline illegal," she added.
On social media, the tragedy made an impact in a way that many stories don't.
"Desensitisation created by 24/7 news means few news items actually cause shock; the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha is one such item," tweeted Ricky Seal.
It also prompted visceral hostility toward the radio presenters. 'I hope they're proud of themselves'.... "Do the moronic callers still find themselves humorous?".... "Humanity, we have reached another low" were among the thousands of furious tweets.
Both DJs have deleted their Twitter accounts. As the UK tabloid the Daily Mirror put it on its front-page Saturday, 'Pranksters Face World Fury.'
Around the world, reaction in the op-ed columns echoed the fury.
In Canada, Christina Blizzard wrote: "So a young woman who cared enough to go into nursing, was courteous enough to pick up a phone because a receptionist wasn't at her desk, was trusting enough to be helpful -- is dead. Two children don't have a mother.
"But at least a radio station kept their audience entertained."
However, some -- a minority to be sure -- said it was too easy to mobilize the virtual lynch mob. One Canadian tweeted: "The two deejays are not responsible for the actions of an unbalanced woman."
Prank phone calls and other practical jokes have long been a form of entertainment on radio and television. Most of the time they are harmless enough: both sides get the joke. The TV series "Candid Camera" ran for years because the great majority of the people tricked by the show were prepared to sign away their dignity for a few minutes.