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Hansard pays for fans' grief counselling

OSCAR-winning singer Glen Hansard is paying for grief counselling sessions for hundreds of fans who watched a man jump to his death at a recent concert.

The Dublin singer, who just announced his return to The Frames, made the big-hearted gesture following the concert by The Swell Season.

The group hit the headlines last week when a man jumped to his death during one of their concerts in California -- and band members are now covering the costs of any counselling sessions fans may need as they try to cope with the tragedy.

As the band finished performing a song, 32-year-old Michael Pickels jumped from a roof covering the outdoor stage in an apparent suicide.

A spokeswoman for Palo Alto-based Kara counselling centre, Stephanie Demof, said the band had promised to pay for four group counselling sessions, which are available for free to audience members.

Pickels landed near lead singer Hansard, who put down his guitar and walked over to the man on stage for a few minutes as paramedics attended to him before leaving the stage.

Tragic

Hansard said that the band will remember the "tragic event" forever.

"It was a terrible shock," he said. "To everyone at the concert, my sympathies are with his family and friends and specially to the children and adults in the audience who had to witness such a tragic thing."

An estimated 1,900 people attended the concert on August 19 at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

However, in spite of vowing to continue on their tour, Hansard has left The Swell Season, which included his former girlfriend Marketa Irglova.

"I'll go back to the Frames, and Mar will make her own record at some point," he said.

"Getting together and making music with Mar was a side thing for me, but it felt absolutely right."

He said he had faith in his former lover and Once co-star hitting the big time on her own.

"I love the way she writes. I think she's an incredible songwriter and I think she could make a really beautiful, beautiful record. I'm very, very proud of her."

hnews@herald.ie