Head of University of Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Services Dies

January 12, 2019

A spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health confirmed to PEOPLE that Dr. Gregory Eells, executive director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Pennsylvania, died by suicide.

The spokesperson told PEOPLE that Eells’ death was ruled a suicide by the Philadelphia Medical Examiner. He died on Monday after jumping from the 17th floor of a building in Center City, where he lived, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Ehlers became the head of the UPenn department in March, according to NBC News. He previously served in a similar role at Cornell University for more than a decade, according to a statement released by UPenn following the hire.

The statement described Eells as “a key collaborator in our university-wide efforts to maintain the health of the entire university.”

Eells’ mother, Janet Eells-Rich, told the Inquirer that Eells found his new job harder than he expected and that his job left him no time for his wife and three children.Eells-Rich also told the newspaper that although he appeared depressed in recent months, he was “the most smiley, optimistic person I’ve ever met in my life.”

According to the student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university said in an email to UPenn students on Monday that Eells died suddenly, but did not specify why.

UPenn’s counseling and psychological services department describes itself on its website as a place that helps “students adjust to college life, manage personal and environmental challenges, develop coping strategies, and grow personally and professionally.”

According to NBC, at least 14 students have died by suicide since 2013, leading to a growing call for more mental health resources on campus.