Just before noon on Monday, a 21-year-old man from Texas jumped to his death from the Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick’s gleaming copper Instagram object at the heart of Hudson Yards. The suicide is the third to take place there, and Related Companies (the developer of Hudson Yards) announced today that the Vessel would be closed indefinitely so additional safety measures can be put in place. However unfortunate, this is a predictable problem for a 16-story structure of twisting walkways with railings that are only around waist-high.
It’s a tragedy that some had tried to prevent. Community Board Four, which covers the West Side of Manhattan, requested that the railings be raised after the first suicide at the Vessel occurred last February. Related did not make any changes to the structure and instead added new guards trained in suicide prevention. They were not able to stop a 24-year-old woman from Brooklyn who jumped from the Vessel in December, in addition to Monday’s suicide. Community Board Four chair Lowell Kern told Midtown Patch on Tuesday that the board is continuing to push Related Companies to increase the height of the railings at the Vessel.
Various high observation platforms around the city have heavy fortifications between visitors and the void, both for general safety and suicide prevention. But at 70 stories, a destination like Top of the Rock is far higher than the Vessel. Closer in scale is the atrium of NYU’s Bobst Library, which is ringed by 12 stories’ worth of balconies, and indeed three suicides occurred there in the 2010s. After the first two happened in quick succession, the university installed eight-foot polycarbonate sheets along the railings, and then put up a kind of wire screen after a student climbed around the barriers to jump to his death in 2009.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, contact the following people who want to help: