Melbourne man Paul Jamieson has taken his own life after receiving a $200 “life retrieval” fee in his most recent Telstra bill. The tragedy occurred only days after Telstra started charging for Lifeline calls, a move angering critics who believe the telco should play the same large role in fighting depression that it plays in creating it.
“It was all just too much for Paul,” explained a friend. “Although to be honest, I don’t think the bill upset him as much as Telstra replacing the Lifeline operators with voice recognition software. It was a pretty bad time for him to be mistaken for ‘wanting hair dye’.”
But Telstra have defended themselves against accusations of heartlessness. “There are still plenty of free numbers our nation’s chronically depressed can call,” said a spokesperson. “Like 1800 011 080. That’s even better than Lifeline – not only can they talk to someone when they desperately need to, but they can learn about our exciting business teleconferencing offers at the same time.”
Paul’s executor was not able to be contacted for this piece, as she is still on hold with Telstra support trying to get the phone line cancelled. The bill for the call is now in the order of hundreds of dollars.