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Fourth Suicide at the Vessel Leads to Calls for Higher Barriers

After closing the structure in January, Related Companies consulted for months with suicide-prevention experts, security experts and local elected officials about ways to limit further suicides at the site, a spokesman told The New York Times in May.

When the structure reopened, visitors were no longer permitted to enter it alone and had to travel in pairs or groups. Tickets went from free to $10, and signs were posted with messages discouraging suicides.

Stephen M. Ross, the billionaire real estate developer who founded Related Companies, said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Thursday that the Vessel would be closed indefinitely while the developers assess how to move forward.

“I want to see every possibility we can do. I mean, we thought we had covered everything,” Mr. Ross said.

Lowell D. Kern, the chairman of Community Board 4, which covers the area, had called on the developers to make design changes after the first suicide occurred in February of last year.

“I’m very sad. This was entirely preventable,” he said in an interview.

“The community board has advised Related that the only surefire way to prevent this from happening is to raise the height of the barriers on the Vessel,” he added. “We sincerely hope that this time Related will take all this to heart.”

Mr. Kern said that community board members had met with a suicide prevention expert, who suggested installing netting or raising the height of the glass barriers. Raising the barriers by seven or eight feet would be enough, Mr. Kern said, and would still allow people to have a clear view of the city.

“Yes, technically it is a work of architecture, and I’m messing with the architect’s vision. But we are dealing with life-and-death issues,” Mr. Kern said. “Art and architecture have to take a back seat.”

Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed reporting.


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