The focal point of the National September 11 Memorial is a pair of sunken granite pools with three-story waterfalls that mark where the fallen World Trade Center towers once stood.

And while they’re certainly beautiful, the New York City Police Department is watching them for an entirely different reason: they’re worried that grief-stricken visitors might try to use the site to commit suicide.

“We have to think of these possibilities,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said in an interview with Esquire magazine. “We’re concerned about the possibility of somebody jumping in.”

Grief experts say memorials can be painful, especially for those with a direct connection to the tragedy for which the memorial was built. Dr. Dana M. Alonzo, associate professor of social work at the Columbia University School of Social Work, said, “The memorial, rather than serving as a source of comfort, can heighten feelings of either ‘This is unjust’ or desires for revenge of some sort. They can feed into those negative feelings that the person is stuck in.”

Commissioner Kelly said there are safeguards in place to prevent any possible suicide attempts — someone would first have to scale over the large bronze plaques inscribed with the victims’ names that surround the site, and beyond that, there are several feet of water-covered marble.

And while no one has yet tried to jump into the pools, Sally Regenhard, the mother of a firefighter who was killed in the 9/11 attacks, said, “When people see water, this is such a grief-stricken area that it is certainly within the realm of possibility … It’s something that should be thought about.”

[New York Times]