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Cornell University to install steel safety nets at bridges

On Monday, crews will begin work at the Stone Arch Bridge over Cascadilla Creek, the first phase of a project to prevent suicide attempts.

Ithaca (WSYR-TV) - Cornell University plans to begin installing steel mesh nets under seven bridges in an effort to reduce suicides, according to Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.

The mayor says the university will pay the entire bill for the custom-made nets, including maintenance. Four of the bridges are owned by the university, the other three are owned by the city of Ithaca.

Last year, the father of a Cornell student who jumped from a bridge sued the city and the university. The case is still pending.

Several Cornell students have committed suicide over the years, according to research published by the university online.

Between 1990-2010, researchers said 28 people jumped from bridges or abutments. Only three survived. Half of those who died were enrolled at Cornell University.

In early 2010, three Cornell students jumped into gorges from bridges or abutments within the span of a month. All three people died, two of them just one day apart.

University researchers said international suicide prevention experts indicated the history of deaths signaled a statistical "cluster," warning that the risk for more suicides was high.

Temporary fencing will be removed once the nets are in place, according to Mayor Myrick. Most of the net systems will be attached to the bottom of the bridges, stretching 15 feet over the sides. They are described as marine-grade stainless steel cable netting.

After months of studies, the first phase of installation begins Monday at the Stone Arch Bridge over Cascadilla Creek. It will likely take a few weeks to complete each bridge.

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