On November 3rd. 2009, my then 20 year-old son, Andrew Williamson-Noble, an East Asian Studies junior at NYU’s College of Arts & Science, jumped to his death from the 10th floor of NYU’s Bobst library. Since that day, I have received messages and emails from students, mainly from NYU, offering support whilst revealing their own turbulent and difficult experiences at the University. I have since learned much about suicide including that it is surrounded by dangerous myths and misunderstandings that do nothing to address the issue nor reduce its incidence.
Suicide is a death of convenience. Removing the means is all it often takes to save the person’s life, forever! There is a wealth of evidence in suicide literature that attests to this. The British Coal Story is one example, the Duke Ellington Bridge in Seattle is another.
So, can you imagine my feelings when the following was posted on my blog last Friday, alerting me to the fact that an NYU student had straddled Bobst’s 10th floor Lexan glass around Midnight on February 25, 2011?
Had my son’s death not been enough to show the inadequacy of those panels? It took three suicides from the 10th floor of Bobst before those panels were installed. Will it take the lives of three more students before the University addresses this deadly issue once and for all?
Do they realize that it was a miracle that the scaled panel on the 02/25 did not result in a body hurling through the atrium and die hitting the library marble floor?
I’ll leave you to read for yourself the message that was left on Blog my and I hope that you will help me, the person who wrote it, and the many students who attend and will attend NYU in the future, to get NYU to tell us when: they will address the safety of the those who use the Bobst library. When will they make it impossible for anyone to climb over the lexan panels and jump.
Furthermore, can they tell us why NYU’s Press Office kept the event quiet when some of the students wanted to ask questions?
Together maybe we can get some answers and more importantly, we can help keep more students safe and get the subject of suicide out of closet.
do you happen to know what precautions nyu has taken to prevent another tragic suicide at bobst? please accept my sincere apologies if this comment dredges up pain for you in any way.
around midnight last friday night (2/25/11, the night before the violet ball), someone managed to climb the 10th floor plexiglass barrier and straddle it, apparently threatening to jump despite the screams of people in the lobby. i was among a dozen or more people who had wandered into the lobby and were quickly hustled outside while bobst security and the arriving police did their jobs. they seemed to be efficient and coordinated, and within 30 to 45 minutes everyone was allowed back inside.
i don’t know whether it was a prankster or someone intent on suicide, but i was surprised that the plexiglass is still scaleable and that no inflatable mattress, trampoline or netting was available to break the fall and render it survivable.
i was also surprised that i couldn’t find any coverage of this in nyu or local papers. twice i’ve posted comments to nyu local; both times my comment has been deleted: http://nyulocal.com/on-campus/2011/02/28/the-changing-culture-of-nyu-mental-health-services/
as i left the library that night, one of the guards assured me that the person on the 10th floor was ok, which was great news. but i don’t think nyu has addressed bobst’s problem fully if the plexiglass is still climbable and nothing has been done to break the suicidal person’s fall, which in itself could be a deterrent.
also, i hate to think that this near-tragedy was hushed up because of the following night’s violet ball, or for some other reason, but given its newsworthiness, i find it hard to stop suspecting it.
i was wondering what your thoughts are on nyu’s efforts to make bobst safer, and if you think the fixes i’ve mentioned would be any help.