Realizing your student could be in danger is scary.

two people walk underneath a large tree on the campus quad, their shadows on the pavement behind them

We’ve put together this guide to help you identify and address issues that may be causing your student distress.

Academic Indicators

Your student may be overly stressed out about the challenges of college-level work. If you see the following indicators, you should take action:

  • Decline in academic performance
  • Extreme test anxiety
  • Missed or late assignments
  • Repeated absences
  • Severe reaction to a poor grade

Emotional Indicators

Academic behaviors aren’t the only signs a student is feeling distressed. The following might be signs your students needs help:

  • Concern about your student by other students
  • Direct statements of distress, problems or other difficulties
  • Excessive dependency on others
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Sudden change in personality (more withdrawn or more animated than usual)
  • Suspiciousness, paranoia or bizarre conversations
  • Tearfulness
  • Unexplained anger or hostility

Physical Indicators

You might notice they look different, or their conversation includes new topics, such as:

  • Any mention of use of alcohol or marijuana as a coping mechanism
  • Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Excessive fatigue or lack of energy
  • Visible weight gain or loss

Safety Risk Indicators

Verbal clues can be cause for concern: Direct or indirect threatening or hinting about suicide:

  • “I can’t do this anymore.”
  • “I’m going away.”
  • “I’m going to kill myself.”
  • “I’m going to put an end to it all.”
  • “It won’t be a problem much longer.”
  • “It’s never going to get better.”
  • “No one will miss me.”
  • “What’s the point?”
  • “You won’t have to worry about me anymore.”
  • “You won’t see me anymore.”

Behavioral clues should be noted:

  • Expressing a sense of hopelessness
  • Giving away possessions
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Purchasing or asking about a weapon
  • Self-injury (cutting) or self-destructive behavior

Take Action. Now.

  1. Consult the Office of Counseling Services.
    Tell the clinician what you’ve observed. Do not try to handle the situation alone.
  2. Recognize urgent situations, when a student’s basic safety or the safety of others is at risk. If you question the immediate safety of a student, contact Campus Safety or Residence Life immediately.
  3. Respect confidentiality. Avoid making promises about confidentiality. Consulting with professionals does not violate confidentiality.
  4. Take these signs seriously. Don’t disregard what you have observed or gut feelings you may have.