Suicide net to be installed at New York sculpture after four deaths

The $200 million attraction located on Manhattan's west side opened in 2019
The $200 million attraction located on Manhattan's west side opened in 2019 - Mark Lennihan/AP

A climbable structure in New York will reopen later this year with a steel net surrounding it after a series of suicides shut it down in 2021.

The Vessel, a 46-metre (150ft) tall attraction will install a new “floor-to-ceiling steel mesh” barrier on several of its stairways and platforms, a spokesman told The New York Times.

The new safety measure will preserve the “unique experience that has drawn millions of visitors from around the globe”, the company that owns Hudson Yards, the development where the Vessel is located, said.

The $200 million honeycomb-like sculpture, located on Manhattan’s west side, opened in 2019 but closed just two years later after four people jumped to their deaths from it.

The first death occurred in February 2020 when a 19-year-old man jumped from the sixth floor. Ten months later, a 24-year-old woman jumped from the top level.

The third fatality was that of a 21-year-old man in January 2021.

This led to the Vessel being closed indefinitely but it reopened later that year with new safety features, including enhanced security and suicide prevention signs. A ban on climbing the sculpture alone was also introduced with tourists required to be with at least one other person to enter the structure.

The Vessel
Floor-to-ceiling steel mesh barriers will be installed on the majority of stairways and platforms - Mark Lennihan/AP

But the measures proved unsuccessful in deterring suicides when, just two months after reopening, Shiv Kulkami, a 14-year-old boy, who was there with his family, jumped to his death.

Following the fourth suicide, the Vessel once again closed indefinitely and Stephen Ross, the CEO of the Hudson Yards development, said he had considered shutting down the structure permanently.

When the Vessel reopens, only the first two levels will not have a mesh barrier. All other floors will have the mesh, with the exception of the very top floor, which will remain closed to the public as it is not possible to add mesh to it.

The barrier is designed to withstand any damage, including outdoor elements and visitors trying to cut or remove it.

The mother of Shiv told The New York Post that she was disappointed and saddened that the family had not been contacted ahead of plans to reopen the landmark.

“Related [the company that owns Hudson Yards]... has not even bothered to reach out,” she said.

“It’s very, very sad that people feel that human connections are not even required. For them, this is all about business... I do hope they’re doing the right thing so there won’t be any more tragedies like ours.”

An exact date for the Vessel reopening has not been announced.

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