The Vessel in Hudson Yards may close permanently after a 14-year-old jumped from the 150-foot structure on Thursday afternoon, the fourth suicide in just two years.
The adolescent boy was climbing the spiral sculpture with his parents, sister, and grandmother when he appeared to leap from the edge shortly before 1 p.m., according to an NYPD spokesperson. The family had been staying a nearby hotel while visiting Manhattan from New Jersey.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Stephen Ross, the billionaire developer of Hudson Yards, said that the art installation may close for good as a result of the tragedy.
“We thought we did everything that would really prevent this,” Ross said. “It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen.”
The troubled tourist site was previously closed to the public in January after a 21-year-old jumped from the structure, the third suicide in under a year. It reopened this past May with new safety protocols, including a rule that all visitors enter in groups of two or more.
But the developer, Related Companies, rejected the recommendation of public health experts and elected officials, including Rep. Jerry Nadler and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who’d called for physical barriers at the monument to prevent suicides.
“This was totally foreseeable and totally preventable,” Lowell Kern, the chair of Manhattan Community Board 4, said on Thursday. “We’ve met with suicide prevention experts, they’ve told us this is the best way. Unfortunately, Related followed their own path and now we have a fourth tragedy.”
Multiple studies have found that vertical barriers reduce the number of suicides at jumping hotspots, including the George Washington Bridge. Public health experts have recommended the intervention for any location with at least .5 suicides a year.
All four people who took their lives at the Vessel were under the age of 25. Research has shown that suicide among young people often happens without previous planning, making barriers more effective at preventing the impulsive acts, according to some experts
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Hudson Yards, Kimberly Winston, said that a full investigation was underway.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the family of the young person who lost their life,” Winston said.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.