Penn to add counselors in wake of recent deaths

FILE PHOTO Penn president Amy Gutmann: Gathering additional mental-health services at the school.
FILE PHOTO Penn president Amy Gutmann: Gathering additional mental-health services at the school.
Posted: February 07, 2014

TWO DAYS after the second student suicide in three weeks, University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann said the school will hire three permanent counselors and three temporary counselors, calling demand for mental-health services at the school "greater than ever."

The death of sophomore Elvis Hatcher, 18, on Tuesday was ruled a suicide - three weeks after the suicide of freshman Madison Holleran. A total of four Penn students have died since the start of winter break, but official causes of death have not been released for the other two students.

The counseling staff hires were included in a message from Gutmann, provost Vincent Price and executive vice president Craig Carnaroli posted yesterday on the university's website.

"Everyone at Penn is terribly saddened by our recent student deaths," the statement read. "Members of our community are grieving these losses. As a consequence, our support service groups, including the College House System, Weingarten Learning Resources Center, the Office of the Chaplain, and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), need additional support. While all evidence indicates that the recent student deaths are unrelated to each other, and certainly unrelated to the work done at CAPS, we know that the needs of the community are placing greater than ever demand on our valuable student support teams."

CAPS, which has a staff of 37, will hire three permanent counselors. In the interim, the center will also add three temporary counselors to offer evening and weekend appointments to students.

Following Holleran's death, many current and former students at the Ivy League school complained about the perceived lack of mental-health resources.

Penn officials sent emails to parents and students earlier this week listing mental-health resources available on campus and addressing the stigma, the university's student newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, reported.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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