Shocked Concertgoers' Dramatic Testimony of Man's Onstage Suicide at Swell Season Concert

Swell Season: Man commits suicide at their show in Saratoga
Swell Season: Man commits suicide at their show in Saratoga

Our sister publication the SF Weekly offered a harrowing account of last night's public suicide of Michael Edward Pickels, 32, of San Jose, in the middle of a Swell Season concert in Saratoga, California.

The Swell Season is best known as the duo that inspired the hit romantic Irish movie Once.

According to the SF Weekly:

Santa Clara County Sheriff Sgt. Rick Sung reports that the man who jumped was not alone at the concert:

"The victim went to a concert with a friend," Sung says. "During the performance, he left his friend, leaving all personal belongings behind.

"The next thing the concertgoers in the audience see is the same guy up on the rooftop above the stage, and he jumps off the rooftop, landing on the stage."

Sung says paramedics and a doctor who was in the audience tried to revive the man with CPR for over an hour, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

National publications are currently picking up on the SF Weekly's report. The comments section of the post, however, offer a Rashomon-like, multiple-perspective account of the suicide by shocked concertgoers who took to the Internet to bear witness to what had just happened:

We just got home from this show, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová [from Swell Season] had just returned from an intermission. They were going into a pretty funny song ribbing their guitarist and his first song when what look like a full sized dummy fell from the roof 40ft above the stage. Hansard was on the other side of the stage at the time. A previously vocal and jubilant crowd of a couple thousand watched in silence as people rushed to the stage to try and help. The band member's looked to be pretty distraught as they and the rest of the crowd realized what they had just witnessed. [Maddox]

He flew from top of stage left to stage right. He was lifeless and they tried cpr immediately. I feel terrible for the band and this guy's family and everyone in attendance. I will never be able to forget this. [Mayra]

He didn't make a sound coming down. He landed near the front of the stage which was a good 15-20 ft from the front of the building behind the stage, so he must have jumped. It was horrible. [Horrible]

I was sitting near the back with full view of whole stage and entire building. From that distance it looked like a black cape or sheet falling and definitely came from the roof because he flew past the stage lights. He came very close to hitting Glen Hansard. He selfishly made us all unwilling witnesses to his (near) death. [Jen]

I saw this man on the roof and I thought he was a crew checking on lighting or something when started to do a running jump as if he was diving off a pool. He flipped mid air and landed flat on the ground on stage almost 3-5 steps from the band. The lead Singer put his guitar down and immediately tended to the man. [Anonymous]

I was sitting in the 6th row on the right side of the stage when the man landed in front of us. The Swell Season's violinist had just treated the audience to a gorgeous Irish song while the rest of the band took a break off stage. Glen came back on stage and led us in a sing along to the first song his guitarist ever wrote. We all giggled and sang about "rocking out to the maximum." Then a man fell from nowhere onto the right side of the stage. There was no sound as he fell but an audible thud when he landed. He was wearing dark clothing. Since Glen had been playfully teasing his guitarist just moments earlier I thought it might have been a joke until Glen screamed for help. People began dialing 911 and members of the audience who were doctors or paramedics rushed to the stage and began giving CPR. We were told to stay in our seats so that ambulances could arrive quickly (without exiting concert goers clogging the roads). We watched him receive CPR for about 30 minutes. A crew member came to the microphone and asked if anyone could identify the man who had landed on stage. The crew put up a black curtain directly in front of everyone who was trying to help him. He had not been resuscitated by the time I left. What began as an amazing evening became a nightmare. My heart goes out to everyone who witnessed this and to the man's family and friends. [Nicole]

I can definitely relate to the witness who thought it was a dummy at first. That's how it looked to me -- specifically because the man appeared to tumble sideways, head over heels, away from the wall. With the outward thrust towards the crowd, he really did look like a dummy being thrown off of the roof.

He hit the stage with a massive thump, and for a moment, the entire venue was silent. I felt like my brain was stuck, trying to make sense of what I had just seen. The horror of the incident was made clear when Glen Hansard ran over to the man, knelt down and yelled at someone offstage, "Quickly!" [Paul Cox]

I was sitting a few rows in front of the stage when this happened. Glen had just finished singing a solo song about "rocking out to the maximum" with such intensity when I saw something crash to the stage and heard a loud thud. I thought it was a speaker or a lighting rig. Glen's face then looked shocked and he asked for help. It became clear that someone had fallen. Witnessing this was horrible and I am still in shock. What a sad end to a beautiful evening and concert. I hope everyone got home safely. My prayers are with the person who died and his family. [Anonymous]

Honestly, I'm really pissed that this jerk ruined an evening for so many. This was a fantastic show up until this point, and how many of us (not to mention the bandmembers themselves) will remember this selfish dead man when we listen to their music? [I Was There]

The ghastly image in my head still won't let me sleep. What a horrific, abrupt ending to a sublime concert. Like so many others at the show, I saw the man run and leap of the roof and plummet to the stage. My mind couldn't even register what had happened at first. I am heartbroken for the loved ones of this desperate man, and I am heartbroken for Glen and Marketa and the band members who will have this horrifying memory. The adorable Marketa made a comment earlier in the show that she will always remember Saratoga because it was her first ever "costume change" (she was cold and changed from her dress to jeans and a sweater). Now she will remember Saratoga for an entirely different reason. What a nightmare. [Can't Sleep]

After reading so many heart-felt comments from audience members at the Swell Season Concert, I can see that I'm not the only one who was traumatized by this event. What was a birthday gift concert from my daughter, with front row, center seats became a surreal, shocking, sudden end to a magic evening. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that the beauty of this concert could end so abruptly. While waiting to be interviewed by the police, Glen Hansard came and sat in the seat in front of me. Clearly, he was devastated by what had happened. I hope that the band can be comforted by knowing they brought so much beauty to their audience and I'm sad that the concert ended the way it did. [From Magic to Nightmare]

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Audience video of the police and paramedics arriving to the scene:

 


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