Like many places across the U.S., New York City is reintroducing itself to tourism. In fact, it’s so committed to people visiting again that it’s made its hotels cheaper for the next 3 months (I’m not sure all the hotels and booking companies are aware of this yet, but…).
One of NYC’s newest attractions, Hudson Yards, opened a few years ago. It’s a mixed-use tract of land that will include residences, shops, restaurants, and other things for both locals and tourists to enjoy by the time it’s completed.
The centerpiece of Hudson Yards is called Vessel. It’s an artistic structure that’s vase-shaped, with 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs — almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings. The vertical climb offers great views of the city, the river and beyond.
Unfortunately, at 150 feet tall and with only a chest-high barrier wall, Vessel has been popular with “jumpers.” Tragically, 3 suicides from Vessel happened over the course of a year. This caused the owners to close the attraction in early 2021 until they figured out what they would do.
One would have thought they’d make the barriers taller, but no, they’ve figured out a different solution: since all three of the people who committed suicide there had visited Vessel alone, you will no longer be able to gain entry to the attraction if you’re there by yourself. You must be in a part of 2 or more. From Vessel’s web page:
Admission is restricted to groups of two persons or more. Minimum of 2 tickets per transaction required.
So they figure if there are no solo visitors, no one will try to kill themselves? How….shortsighted.
“Vessel was envisioned as a shared, immersive design experience. Requiring visitors to attend in groups of two or more significantly enhances the safety of the experience,” a representative from Related Companies, Hudson Yards’ owner, told the New York Post.
Granted, they’re doing other things too. They’re tripling security, and “screening procedures” have been put into place “to detect high-risk behavior.” They’re also partnering with the Born This Way Foundation, Lady Gaga’s nonprofit mental-wellness organization, and will have a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline message at the entrance of and on the tickets for, Vessel.
But I guess they think if someone seriously considering jumping goes in with a friend, they won’t get up to the top, say, “Be right back, gotta pee,” walk a few yards away and jump? Or what if their companion is significantly taller/bigger and physically can’t stop the person from jumping? (I promise I’m not trying to make light of this – suicide is a horrible, tragic thing; besides the fact that I worked on a psychiatry unit for more than a decade, my best friend’s dad killed himself). But my point is, if someone is at Vessel and is hell-bent on ending it all, I question if being there “with somebody” will necessarily stop them.
Meanwhile, this new rule limits access to a decent amount of folks without mental health issues who might want to climb Vessel by themselves. People who are climbing it for exercise. Tourists who are with folks who are afraid of heights. Business travelers (they’re slowly coming back!) who have an hour or two to themselves.
There’s nothing that says why they decided to go this route, which leads me to assume it was a matter of cost. Reinforcing/adding to the barriers that would have the physical act of jumping more difficult would have cost more, all at once, than adding more security guards. But I think a life is much more valuable than any such cost.
But who knows, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe having someone with them, and the other measures they’re going to include, will prevent someone from jumping. For their sake, I certainly hope so. And if it saves a life, that’s awesome.
But I also feel bad for anyone who wants to go to Vessel alone.
Anyway, Vessel’s reopening is scheduled for Friday, May 28, 2021.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary