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NYC Landmarks Becoming Suicide Haven?

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- New Jersey prosecutors say no decision has been made on whether to add additional charges in the Rutgers suicide case.

Students Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei are charged with invasion of privacy. The Middlesex County district attorney might add bias charges. Ravi and Wei are accused of streaming online video of classmate Tyler Clementi during a sexual encounter with another man.

He later committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Clementi is the most recent example of a New York City landmark becoming the site for tragedy. As CBS 2's Mark Morgan reports, there is a reason those who take their own life choose an iconic structure for their final act.

When Clementi leapt to his death from the GWB, the Rutgers student's suicide drew national attention.

"This is the way you are guaranteed some sort of notoriety. You know if you jump from that landmark, whether the George Washington Bridge or the Empire State Building, that people will know about it and you are making a statement," clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere said.

Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in 2000 and survived. There are now plans for a net that will jut out from the bridge, to hopefully help save lives.

If it was there when I jumped, I would not have jumped," Hines said.

Barriers have been constructed on the bridges spanning gorges in Ithaca, N.Y., where six Cornell University students committed suicide last year.

Anything that can obstruct a "clean" jump, because people don't want to deal with the pain of falling into something like that," Gardere said.

As of Aug. 31, the NYPD had responded to more than 600 reports of people jumping or threatening to jump from buildings or bridges. That number marked a 27 percent increase over the same period last year.

A Port Authority spokesperson told Morgan: "We are continuing to partner with mental health experts to further strengthen prevention efforts."

Gardere said many suicides are the result of a person who feels they don't have any other alternative, and that landmarks become "magnets" for those contemplating ending their life.

According to a Center for Disease Control study covering 2002-'06, jumping off buildings or bridges was the fourth leading cause of suicide among young people ages 10 to 24.

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