We look out across a skyline populated by skyscrapers, the rising sun
piercing the spaces between. On Earth, another day dawns. A hand
pulls into view, placed over us, providing shade from the sunlight.
The bare rooftop is illuminated as the sun gets higher in the sky.
For miles there is naught but quiet activity, the streets occupied
with the earliest risers.
The sun rise is watched till the mark of 2:36 on the video, before
the view is pulled forward to the ledge. The gaze is directed down.
Protected though we are by the screen through which we watch, the
heart cannot help but jump, the stomach cannot help but churn as we
see the height at which we stand. The street seems suddenly
oppressively close and impossibly far away at the same time.
For an uncomfortable amount of time (a minute and twenty two seconds
exactly) this view is held. Then legs and hands sprout into place,
knees are bent, a hand is placed on the ground for support. The legs
shift forward and the abdomen appears. The legs dangle over the edge
of the roof. The view is now seated. Gazing now, up again at the
skyline, a marvellous sun of yellow and orange against a never-ending
vault of blue. The view is held for so a short period of time, 20
seconds, before the gaze returns to the legs, to the space spread out
Again, discomfort. This height is felt. The legs seem like those of
giants, stomping and blotting out bits of the street. Below, a tiny
figure of a homeless man drifts under the shoes, making his way
through the streets.
The building wall, spread out between the legs seems like an
impossible glass road ending where the doors meet the streets.
Time passes gazing down. Time enough that the discomfort settles.
The view jolts forward into space. The time on the video reads 7:36.
You'll have no doubt seen the video.
On Sunday Morning, April 17th 2016, Mark Gloucester
committed suicide. He jumped or rather pushed himself off the top
of a high-rise.
You know this. The video of his final moments including his descent,
recorded via his Google Glasses was automatically streamed to Youtube. Because of Mark's use of social media, the video was quickly
picked up by the Internet and went viral.
No one quite knows why he committed suicide or why he chose to record
his final moments in such a fashion. He is survived by his
girlfriend, Aisling Hubell and his family. In public statements they
assert that his loss came as a shock, with their being no sense of
any suffering or distress on his part in the weeks leading to his death.
Mark left no suicide note. Or, if we may allow a certain
interpretation of events, he left a note not recording his motives,
but a note recording the very act itself.
Both Mark's family and various social media sites have tried in vain
to get the video removed, but unfortunately copies remain. It continues to be reuploaded on various sites, including Youtube.
Many commented at the time that the video was fake. The enquiry into
Mark's death found a set of glasses a half metre away from the place
of his death, shattered into pieces. A check of the product
registration code confirms that the video uploaded to his account
came from this very pair.
It is not the writer's place to judge at this moment our desire to
watch or the invitation we have received on mass to do so. When it
comes to suicide moral judgements mean little.
But I will speak on my own feelings to the matter. There is something
unnerving in the issuing of such an invitation. It is hard, despite
having no connection with Mark Gloucester, to not feel a collusion of
sorts with the act, simply by choosing to watch.
Somehow, the lack of audio present in the video makes the entire
It is the dying persons wish however that we pay attention to his
final moments. For whatever reason, they had a meaning to impart,
even if such meaning escapes our attention or capacities.
I do not know, whether by watching we are acknowledging a man's dying
wish, being manipulated into the presence of death and silence or
simply reducing it all to a spectacle. Ultimately, if we choose to
watch or not, the video will persist.
The world was asked to see the view from above and in our droves, we