Piece Comment

Review of Four Seconds: Suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge

A close friend, a brilliant, 33-year-old doctor, throws himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. He leaves no explanation and has never hinted at being suicidal, although his brother, another close friend of the producer's, killed himself a few years earlier. How to make sense of this loss? Jake Warga doesn't try too hard, and that's one of the many virtues of this affecting audio essay.

Warga succinctly describes his friendship with Phil; he passes on some interesting and amusing facts about the Golden Gate, "the world's most popular suicide destination." He tells a funny story about crying on the bridge after Phil's death and being approached by a law enforcement officer ("call me Ron") who clearly thinks Warga is preparing to jump and has come to talk him down.

The piece's biggest virtue is Warga's writing. Looking at Phils body in the morgue, Jake sees the face of his father and of Phil's late brother. "The dead all have a way of showing up at once," he says dryly.

A longish piece for an audio essay, but a very good one.