Just two months after its reopening following a series of operational changes instituted to prevent visitors from harming themselves, another young person has jumped to their death from the Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick’s 150-foot-tall interactive sculpture at Hudson Yards in Manhattan.
AN confirmed this tragic news with the New York City Police Department’s press office, and learned that the suicide occurred earlier this afternoon at just before 1 p.m. and involved a 14-year-old male. The teenager, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the family of the young person who lost their life. We are conducting a full investigation,” Kimberly Winston, a spokesperson for Hudson Yards, told AN in an emailed statement. Winston added that the Vessel was currently closed but offered no further insight as to when—or if—it would reopen.
This is the fourth suicide to occur at the 15-story artwork-slash-Instagram hotspot since it debuted at Hudson Yards in March 2019. It was shuttered in mid-January of this year after a 21-year-old from Texas jumped from the monumental structure, and reopened, as mentioned, to visitors in late May. The two previous deaths occurred in February and December of 2020. All four people to jump from Vessel have been under the age of 25.
The reopening of Vessel came with a slew of suicide prevention measures including a ban on solo visitors—anyone looking to ascend Vessel’s labyrinthine jumble of 154 staircases had to be accompanied by another person or be part of a larger group. Hudson Yards also enacted a $10 per person admission fee, waived for children under five and touristic early birds. As Hudson Yards explained in May, proceeds from ticket sales were for “safety enhancements including tripling our staff and security and increased staff training.”
Positive messaging developed in partnership with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation was also installed at the entrance to the attraction and appeared on all Vessel tickets when it reopened. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline signage was also newly visible at the site.
Despite these changes at the $150 million Vessel, the height of the barriers along the sculpture’s walkways was not increased, a change pushed by Community Board 4 and others including public health experts and elected officials such as Rep. Jerry Nadler and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. The campaign urging Hudson Yards to increase the height of the barriers began after the first suicide in February 2020.
With a price tag of roughly $25 billion, the 28-acre Hudson Yards is one of the most expensive real estate development projects ever completed in the United States.
Update: In an article published after AN’s initial reporting, the Daily Beast’s Noah Kirsch spoke to Stephen Ross, CEO of Hudson Yards developer Related Companies, which owns and operates the troubled attraction. Ross told Kirsch: “We thought we did everything that would really prevent this. It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen. But you know, I feel terrible for the family.”
The teen, as Ross revealed to the Daily Beast, was with four family members when he jumped from the eighth story of the structure.
“I want to see every possibility we can do. I mean, we thought we had covered everything,” he added, noting that Vessel will remain closed indefinitely.
AN will continue to update this breaking news story as we learn more.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 800-273-8255.