Within four weeks during February and March of 2010, three Cornell students jumped to their deaths from Fall Creek gorge bridges or bridge abutments. The last two died on consecutive days. These three jumping deaths followed three other non-jumping suicides of Cornell students earlier in the academic year. International suicide prevention experts indicated that together these deaths constituted a statistical "cluster," and that the risk of further suicides due to imitative effects or "contagion" was significantly high. They urged Cornell and city officials to quickly place temporary barriers on the East Hill bridges in order to reduce the immediate risk of further jumping suicides. Given the decades-long history of jumping suicides and the fact that half of the suicides of Cornell students over the past 20 years have been the result of suicide jumps from bridges or bridge abutments on or near the Cornell campus, they further urged the community to develop a permanent system to restrict use of the bridges as a means of suicide.
The proposed means restriction design for all bridges, except the Suspension Bridge, is a horizontal net system attached to the bottom side of the bridge structure located on both the east and west side of the structure. The net will project roughly 15 feet from the bridge and is comprised of marine-grade stainless steel cable netting with an 8 inch grid. In the case of the suspension bridge the existing metal bars are removed and replaced with a vertical net system.
Click the links below to view proposed design for each bridge:
11/16/11 - Board of Public Works Meeting: Allowed Planning Board to be Lead Agency
11/22/11 - Planning & Development Board: Preliminary Site Plan Approval
11/30/11 - Special meeting of the Common Council
12/07/11 - Common Council Meeting: Approved nets to be placed on City Bridges
12/13/11 - Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission: Certificate of Appropriateness issued
12/20/11 - Planning & Development Board: Final Site Plan Approval
July 2012 - Start of Phased Construction*
December 2012 - Construction Complete
*Construction will be phased so that no more than one bridge is under construction per gorge.