World Suicide Prevention Day arrives as Penn mourns loss of administrator

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Tuesday is World Suicide Prevention Day and SEPTA is taking the fight against suicide to the places they know best: the subway and bus stops where they can reach thousands of daily riders.

On Tuesday morning, volunteers handed out flyers and displayed posters with the phone number National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The posters read, "with help comes hope."

The hope of this campaign - between the Regional Suicide Prevention task force, Operation Lifesaver and SEPTA - is to save a life.

"Over 50% of the fatalities we see out on the right-of-way are classified as suicide, maybe even higher," said Jeffery Knueppel, SEPTA's General Manager.

The messages will be seen on buses and inside train cars specifically targeting vulnerable first responders and veterans.

But mental health professionals say the easy accessibility to help is a message everyone should hear.

Stephanie Gimeno is a member of the Regional Suicide Prevention task force and works for Belmont Behavioral Center.

"This isn't a strange thing, it is common to have thoughts of suicide and we just want people to know that there is support available," she said.

This campaign happens to come just after the Executive Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Pennsylvania died by suicide in a public manner yesterday.

The University released this letter addressed to students and staff:

"With sadness, we write to share the news of the sudden death of Dr. Gregory Eells, Executive Director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Dr. Eells died this morning in Philadelphia.

Dr. Eells was new to Penn, having started at CAPS in late March. He previously led the counseling center at Cornell for more than a decade.
We extend our condolences to Dr. Eells' family."

The University of Pennsylvania has been rocked by a number of high profile suicides in recent years. But Gimeno says the University is not unique.

"Suicide is the leading cause of death of people who are college-age. With Penn being the center of the community in so many different ways here we hear about it more. But it doesn't mean it's not happening in other places," says Gimeno.

You can reach help 27/4 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255
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