ITHACA, NY (CBSMiami) – Cornell University’s Fall Creek is an iconic spot for suicide on the Ivy League campus in upstate New York, with at least 27 suicides from the bridge since 1990. Now, a Boca Raton man whose son jumped to his death from the bridge is suing the University and the city if Ithaca for $168 million, saying both could have done more.
Howard Ginsburg filed his lawsuit in US District Court after his son, Bradley, walked out on the bridge that spans the Fall Creek gorge, climbed over the railing, and jumped to his death.
He said in his lawsuit that school and city officials knew the bridges over Fall Creek were a danger but didn’t take adequate steps to make them safe.
The lawsuit maintains there were 27 suicides and two failed suicide attempts from the bridges from 1990 to 2010, giving the campus a reputation “as an iconic spot for ending one’s life.”
The school, it alleges, didn’t notify students’ parents about at least three student suicides in fall 2009. Publicizing those deaths might have led to parents conducting a “mental health check” of their students, it added.
The suicide issue at Fall Creek is not new; it’s legend at Cornell, and has been for more then half a century. While students buzz about the deaths seen over years at the gorge, Cornell maintains its suicide rate over time is normal for colleges.
Weeks after Bradley Ginsburg’s death, two more students killed themselves on successive days — sophomore William Sinclair, 19, of Chevy Chase, Md., and Matthew Zika, 21, a junior from Lafayette, Ind.
In the past, the publicity over a suicide had prompted other attempts.
Cornell dispatched staff lookouts to the six bridges on campus and went door-to-door to check on students. The outreach effort includes counseling and a program of reinsurance from school officials and professors, who were encouraged tell the students to keep academics in perspective.
The steep, rocky gorges bounding Cornell add to the beauty of the campus in the Finger Lakes region. But they also have figured into student suicides.
Cornell said it had no comment but expects the lawsuit to be dismissed. The City of Ithaca’s attorney, Dan Hoffman, aIS he doesn’t believe the city was responsible for the tragedy.