Head of mental health services at University of Pennsylvania dies by suicide

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The executive director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Pennsylvania died by suicide Monday morning in Philadelphia, officials said.

Gregory Eells became the head of the department at UPENN that counsels students with mental health problems in March.

His death was ruled a suicide by the medical examiner’s office, according to James Garrow, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

In a message to students Monday, the school said only that Eells died suddenly.

Eells’ mother, Jeanette Eells-Rich, told The Philadelphia Inquirer he had been upset in recent months, telling her the job was harder than he anticipated. Eells-Rich said the job had kept him from his wife and three children, who were still living in Ithaca, New York.

He died at the building where he lived in the Center City neighborhood of downtown Philadelphia, reports the Inquirer.

Eells was slated to be a vital collaborator in Penn’s campus-wide initiatives to sustain wellness across the University, the school said in a statement in January.

“In particular, his vision and experience will be invaluable as we continue to improve and integrate our services dedicated to student wellness,” said Provost Wendell Pritchett said.

Eells had previously worked at Cornell University as director of counseling and psychological services and as director of the University Counseling Center at the University of Southern Mississippi.

He arrived at UPENN at a time when the campus community was demanding more mental health resources, reports student newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian, in the wake of at least 14 student deaths by suicide since 2013.

Sunday was the start of National Suicide Prevention week, an annual week-long awareness campaign designed to engage Americans about the warning signs of suicide and the resources available for people in crisis.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.