In January, reports emerged that the Vessel in Hudson Yards would be shut down indefinitely after two people committed suicide by leaping from the structure within the span of two months. In total, the nest of interconnected staircases had been the site of three suicides; another young man from New Jersey had jumped from the Vessel to his death in February 2020. This week, however, it was announced that the Vessel would be reopening to accommodate audiences on Friday with new stopgaps in place to reduce the risks of suicides.
There are several new measures in place to prevent potential deaths. Firstly, security will be tripled, and anyone who wishes to climb the structure will be required to do so in pairs. Tickets were previously free but will now cost $10; the Vessel staff will also be carrying signs bearing messages discouraging visitors from committing suicide.
And these messages won’t just be reserved for signs: tickets to the Vessel will also have messages written on the back of them which were developed with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which has dedicated part of its functionality to offering mental health resources. The tickets will say things like “each of you matter to us, and to so many others.”
However, despite the efforts of the local community board and research that shows that raising the Vessel‘s barriers would be the most effective way to prevent suicides, Related Companies, the Hudson Yards developer, said it would not be raising the barriers.
The Vessel’s suicide problem was actually anticipated by the editor Audrey Wachs in 2016: “As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump,” Wachs predicted in The Architect’s Newspaper.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741