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 below.

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 thing worse.

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 have agreed.


Stephen Witness

Express News

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.