My Latest Huffington Post Piece

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.

When?

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.

Esmeralda Williamson-Noble

dear esmeralda,

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.

best regards,

b

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6 thoughts on “My Latest Huffington Post Piece

  1. Dear Esmeralda,

    I wish I had more answers for you. I spoke with my daughter who heard absolutely nothing about this incident, not a peep. She is well known in the NYU circuit as an advocate for suicide prevention and not one individual has approached her regarding this individual. How is it possible to silence every witness to this near traagedy? And yet it seems they somehow managed. Honestly, none of this should surprise me given my most recent experience with NYU & their team of “counselors” and lawyers. Renown for their business and law schools? No big surprise there either!

    On another note, I am hoping you can do me and thousands of others a great favor. I have sent you an email with a link attached. (too long for this blog) Edit it as you wish, but if you could please post the link, we would forever be indebted, as your blog reaches many individuals with caring hearts. Thank you in advance and much love to you.

    • Dear Lenette, good to hear from you. I have not received your email, unless you sent it this second.
      As for the NYU incident, I have not succeeded in getting the word out, other than through my blog. I have contacted several newspapers and no one has responded.
      I would like to know more about the personal experiences you mention.
      Also, I think that we need to start recruiting other NYU parents and student to join forces if we are to get anywhere. Can you help?
      I look forward to hearing from you. Big hug, Esmeralda

      • Sorry, it was still in my ‘draft’ folder. Sent to your gmail address. You should have it now.

        Hugs back.

        L

  2. Suicide attempts and instances of suicide ideation are not always reported due to the privacy of the persons involved. The student involved was obviously crying out for help. Can you imagine how they would feel knowing that their cry was turned into a fuel for media gossip or for the thousands of students to gossip about? Once they receive the help they need, shouldn’t they be able to return to NYU classes and the community if they choose without whispers?

    • Indeed! I am concerned about the fact that after my son proved the panels to be scaleable, nothing has been done to change that. It is a miracle that that boy is alive!
      Silence will not encourage NYU to take the necessary steps. I lost MY SON in that library, I know what I am talking about.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment and please feel free to do so again.

    • We have been silent about suicide far too long.
      This is not about media and gossip. This is about raising awareness.
      If anything there isn’t ENOUGH media attention on the subject. I live near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the #1 suicide magnet in the world. There have been at least 1500 jumpers who have died by suicide since the bridge was erected. Yet I can probably count the times anything was mentioned in the media. However about 2 weeks ago, a 17 year old student, while on a field trip with 45 others, jumped off the bridge as a stunt, and survived. This boy’s “stunt” has received WORLD WIDE attention, yet all those
      lost soles remain silent. I for one am sick and tired of our children killing themselves, and no one wants to talk about it.

      Your statements somewhat contradict each other Valerie.
      Yes, the student was obviously crying out for help. If he wanted privacy, why would he have picked Bobst of all places? Because deep inside he was likely hoping someone would stop him and thank God they did!! So why keep silent now? Why give him the impression he has done something shameful or that he is now “damaged goods”?
      This is the time for love, compassion and support…to let this person know his life is worth living, we are here for him and it DOES get better. You would be surprised, when something such as suicide is openly addressed, how much more positive the results are, eliminating much of the whispering. Of course there will always be the occasional a$$ who can’t resist. However that is the case for anything.

      I highly doubt NYU silenced this incident out of respect for the student and his family, but very likely out of fear of negative media attention. Had they actually cared, they certainly would have treated Andrew’s death differently. I am not speaking only of Andrew’s family’s experience, but of the students who were in the library when Andrew took his life. Imagine the emotional and psychological trauma they sustained.
      Well, following their statements, they were rushed out of the building and left to carry on as if nothing had happened. Back to business, there was a group of perspective students expected to tour the library at 9 a.m.. So off with you mourners…go have your vigil elsewhere!
      My child was deeply affected by Andrew’s death and what was their
      solution? Medicate, medicate!! After all, they wouldn’t want someone else’s blood stains on their precious name.
      I hope and pray this student is receiving the help he needs and his family is not giving him the impression he should remain secretive regarding his attempt. I pray he never feels that sense of hopelessness again, and I hope NYU will get their heads out of the a$$es and do something about that library.

      It has been our endless perseverance that broke the silence and has forced the GGB district into approving a barrier for the bridge. And it will be our utmost lack of silence that will build the barrier!

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