You may have heard that three Cornell students committed suicide in as many weeks recently, each jumping off a campus bridge into one of Ithaca's famed gorges. Cornell responded immediately and earnestly, producing (and strongly encouraging faculty to watch) videos about suicide prevention, reaching out to the shaken and unnerved student body, and even posting guards on campus bridges.
There haven't been any more incidents since. The guards are gone, but we're all left with a very visual reminder of what happened: Cornell recently put up extra-high chain link fences along all the bridges.
When the suicides were happening, I found myself getting mildly creeped out by Ithaca's tourism slogan, "Ithaca is Gorges." It brought to mind something very sad instead of something very beautiful. But over time, those feelings passed and I was able to pass the gorges while admiring the waterfalls and stunning vistas, and nothing else.
These new chain link fences have brought back all the negative gorge associations. I understand why they're there, and I hope they fulfill their purpose. I also hope Cornell and Ithaca come up with a more permanent solution soon that doesn't scream SUICIDE at me every time I see it. Ithaca's gorges aren't going away, after all. Surely there's a way to make the bridges safer while also not making us all feel like a chain-link fence is the only thing keeping us from leaping to our deaths?