DEALING WITH DISTRESSED AND POTENTIALLY VIOLENT STUDENTS
Any member of the Colorado State University-Pueblo community may come in contact with a distressed student. Below is a list of warning signs to be aware of when dealing with these students. The professionals at the Student Counseling Center are available for consultation regarding these issues. Please feel free to call 549-2859.
Acting depressed (no motivation)
Increased substance abuse
Suicidal thoughts or comments
Loud confrontational language
Physically violent behavior
Bullies or intimidates
Access to a weapon
Verbal or written threats
Rambling or disconnected speech
Preoccupation with death
Harassing or stalking behavior
If you are the first to be in contact with a distressed student, please follow these suggestions:
-Safety First! Maintain a safe distance and an escape route, should you need it. You may need to call 911 in an emergency or on campus 9-911.
-Avoid Escalation! Do not assert authority or threaten with demands. Do not touch the student, they can be easily provoked. Try to listen and show support.
-Don’t Ask Specific Questions! Ask general questions. If you know the student’s name use their name first and ask questions such as, “Are you OK?” or “Would you like to talk about what’s happening to you?” Distressed students are relieved that someone has noticed and is paying attention. Overly direct questions may be perceived as a challenge or threat.
-Be Aware of Your Body Language! Maintain eye contact, respect personal space, minimize body movements, stay in “open” position (do not cross arms or legs), don’t raise your voice, and nod when appropriate.
-Know Your Limits! Just listening and referring the student for further help may be what is needed of you. Be accepting and nonjudgmental. Commend the student for confiding in you.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
Be Careful not to overextend yourself—if you can answer yes to one or more of these warning signs, please confide in someone about the situation.
-are you stressed or overwhelmed about the situation?
-are you feeling angry with the student?
-are you thinking of “adopting” or rescuing the student?
-are you “relieving” similar experiences of your own?
Student Counseling Center 549-2859
Dean of Student Life 549-2919
Student Health 549-2830
Emergency (on-campus) 9-911