Faculty and Staff 911 Guide: Suicide Prevention
You're worried that a student poses a serious threat to self or others. Now what? The first step is to determine whether the situation poses an Immediate Threat of Harm, Possible Threat of Harm, or a Serious Ongoing Concern. This page provides information on how to determine the level of threat the situation poses and what to do about it.
Immediate Threat Of Harm
An immediate threat of harm exists when a student has EXPRESSED a desire, plan or intention to kill or seriously harm self or others. This threat is magnified when a student is intoxicated or under the influence of other substances. Other serious warning signs of an immediate threat of harm may include:
- Verbal threats or physical attempts to kill or harm self or others
- Possession of/access to a deadly weapon (e.g., firearms, knives, drug stockpiles, poisons) and an intention to use it against self or others.
- An inability to commit to personal safety or to refrain from harming others.
In the event of an immediate threat of harm, call 911 right away.
If you are not with the student, ask for the police to do a "welfare check" and share your concerns about an immediate threat of harm. Campus police will do welfare checks for students on campus and local police will do welfare checks for students off campus.
Possible Threat Of Harm
A possible threat of harm exists when a student has SUGGESTED a desire, plan or intention to kill or seriously harm self or others. Other serious warning signs for a possible threat of harm listed may include:
- Previous suicide attempts
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Problems with or significant changes in mood (e.g., depression, anxiety, or anger)
- Expressions of hopelessness, helplessness, or no sense of meaning in life
- Sleep problems
- Social withdrawal
- Preoccupation with death
- Feeling like a burden on others
These warning signs may be apparent at any time but may be more likely to occur when a student has experienced a major loss, including the loss of a loved one, an important relationship, a job, housing, or academic standing, among other serious losses and stressors. If you are concerned about a possible threat of harm, ask the student, in private, "Are you thinking of killing yourself or others?" If the answer is "Yes", or "Possibly Yes", seek further assistance.
In the event of a possible threat of harm, seek further assistance from UWF Counseling and Psychological Services 850.474.2420, Campus Police 850.474.2415, Local Police (911), or local emergency room personnel.
All clinical staff of UWF Counseling and Psychological Services, campus police, local police, and emergency room personnel are trained to assess for safety. UWF Counseling and Psychological Services provides emergency assessments for all students in need, free of charge, on a walk-in basis in Building 960 during business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Crisis counselors are available by phone at 850.474.2420 after hours and on weekends. Campus police and local police can perform a safety assessment on-site anywhere on or off campus. Emergency room personnel perform safety assessments in hospitals.
Serious Ongoing Concerns
Serious ongoing concerns exist when a student displays any of the warning signs listed above but clearly denies any thoughts of harm to self or others and long-term concerns about the well-being of the student remain. Other warning signs of a serious ongoing concern may include:
- Psychological distress or crisis
- Mental health disorder or symptoms (such as depression, anxiety, or eating disorders)
- Substance abuse or dependence
- Trauma or victimization experiences
In the event of Serious Ongoing Concerns, refer the student to UWF Counseling and Psychological Services 850.474.2420 and the UWF Campus CARE Team 850.474.2384, or the Dean of Students Office.
UWF Counseling and Psychological Services provides a range of individually tailored counseling services, without charge, for all UWF students in need. The UWF Campus CARE Team reviews individual student concerns and responds on an individual basis for students in need of assistance.
If you are concerned about a student but unsure what to do, contact UWF Counseling and Psychological Services 850.474.2420 and ask to consult with a counselor.
Follow this link to download the Faculty & Staff 911 Suicide Prevention Guide in PDF format.