A spokesperson said the Hudson Yards developer is consulting with suicide-prevention experts to help prevent future tragedies

By Rachel DeSantis
January 13, 2021 03:33 PM
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Vessel
| Credit: Noam Galai/Getty

Following the third apparent suicide at the landmark in less than a year, the Vessel at Hudson Yards in New York City is closing indefinitely as its development company works toward making safety improvements, according to local reports.

Since opening in March 2019, the popular tourist destination on the city's west side has thrice been the scene of tragedy, most recently on Monday, when 21-year-old Franklin Washington was found unconscious and unresponsive at the site, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirms to PEOPLE.

Washington, of San Antonio, had "injuries consistent with a fall from an elevated height," and an investigation into his death remains ongoing, the spokesperson said.

His death followed that of a 24-year-old Brooklyn woman who jumped from the Vessel on Dec. 21, and the suicide of a 19-year-old college student from New Jersey in February.

A spokesperson for Related Companies, the developer of Hudson Yards, told The New York Times that the closure of the Vessel was temporary, and that the firm was consulting suicide-prevention experts, including psychiatrists, about how to best limit the potential for suicides.

The spokesperson, who did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment, added to the New York Post that Related had also hired more security workers who are specially trained in spotting and helping people who pose a risk of jumping.

Lowell Kern, chairman of the local community board, told the Times that a company representative told him that the Vessel's closure will be until further notice, and that it will not reopen until preventative steps are presented to the board.

Kern in part authored a letter from the board to Related in March following the first suicide that expressed concerns about the 150-foot structure's relatively low barrier. The letter also asked the company to take steps to reduce the likelihood of more suicides.

A spokesperson for Hudson Yards told PEOPLE shortly after the initial incident that they were "continuously working" on safety.

"We have security and operations staff on Vessel at all times, including at the entrance and on various levels, and are continuously working closely with local emergency response agencies to further institute best practices with the safety of our guests in mind," the spokesperson said.

Kern told the Times this week that he still believes increasing the height of the barrier is the best way to improve safety measures.

"After three suicides, at what point does the artistic vision take a back seat to safety?" he told the outlet.

A timeline for the structure's reopening remains unclear, and its website simply says it is "currently closed" as of Wednesday afternoon.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.