“…A New York University student leapt to his death from the tenth floor of the Bobst Library recently. The suicide of 20-year-old Andrew Williamson-Noble, a graduate of Irvington High School class of 2007 is one of the several at NYU – there have been at least half a dozen suicides since 2003.
The rate of suicide on college campuses has increased drastically over the past nine years. According to the mental health association as a result of previous suicides
Williamson-Noble’s fall emulated past deaths on the large, urban campus of NYU. Blogs reporting Williamson-Noble’s death are overflowing with comments – many blaming the popularity of Bobst Library as a locale for suicide on the stereogram pattern of the tiled floor and the modernist architecture. In one blog, a commenter said, “…There’s just something off about the library. It’s part Escher, part Alice in Wonderland.”
The University installed large Plexiglas panels to prevent any more attempts following two undergraduate suicides in 2003; both Steven Bohler, 18, and John Skolnik, 20, jumped from the 10th floor of Bobst. These large barriers have not been able to stop the deaths, as students have been able to find their way around them. In 2007, Allan Hunter, 18, resorted to jumping from the roof of University Hall. Apparently, Williamson-Noble scaled the Plexiglass in order to jump.
Fits of rage and criticism overwhelmed the NYU administration following Skolnik’s death in 2003 – students complained of a severe lack of coverage on the suicide, feeling as if the tragedy was ignored. Four weeks later, when Bohler mirrored Skolnik’s jump, the administration sent a mass email in order to inform the campus and also offered guidance through the Wellness Exchange, a service that states that it is “designed to address the overall health and mental health of [NYU] students.”
NYU’s President, John Saxton, sent out a similar email after Williamson-Noble’s death: “…Suicide among people of college age is a national problem, a leading cause of death amount the young; each year, campuses across the country must cope with these tragedies and their aftermath – the pain, the heartbreak, the upset it causes to those who are vulnerable, and all the terrible, persistent questions.”
Despite this acknowledgement by NYU’s administration, massive criticism once again ensued when Bobst was opened to tours and classes later that day. Harrison Jackson, a graduate of the class of 2009 and student at NYU said, “It was like it happened, we got an email, and never really heard anything else about it. …But NYU is such a big operation that I guess nothing can really stop for that long.”
However, although the recovery seemed quick, Jackson says, “Everything’s a reminder, especially the Plexiglas shields – kind of ominous…It’s hard to imagine that this isn’t limited to NYU, that college suicides have become so common; it’s a tragedy that everyone is now forced to face.”