What do I do If I am in Crisis?

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, tell someone who can help right away:

  • Call your doctor's office.
  • Call 911 for emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.
  • Visit National Suicide Prevention Lifelife Chat 
  • Call The Trevor Project (LGBTQ friendly) 1-866-488-7386 or visit online chat/text option

Make an Appointment

Please call us at 801-863-8876 to make your first appointment. Please let our support staff know that you would like to meet with a crisis counselor.

Be aware that appointments are available only to currently enrolled UVU students.

Costs

Individual Therapy: $10/session
Couple’s Therapy: $10/session
Group Therapy: Free

Concerned About A Student 

Concerns of Wellbeing

Some students thrive in the new and exciting environment of higher education. Unfortunately, sometimes this great environment of growth can be overwhelming to students. Anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, and other stressors can all put an emotional burden on students. If you have a concern regarding a student, share that concern and let us help. Please send an e-mail to erbbi@uvu.edu, and list the subject as "Concerned About A Student").

Concerns of Suicide

If you are concerned that a student may be contemplating suicide, please share your concern or, better yet, encourage the student to come to Student Health Services in SC-221 for a walk-in crisis appointment. These appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8am-5pm. The university has professionals that are ready to help individuals in crisis. You can also share your concern with us by sending an e-mail to erbbi@uvu.edu, and listing the subject as "Concerned About A Student".

If you or someone you love is in imminent danger after hours, please utilize the following resources: 

  • National hotline number – 1-800-273-TALK
  • UVU Campus Police: 801-863-5555
  • 911
  • Visit your nearest ER for evaluation

Concerns of Violence

Violence is a process, as well as an act. Violent behavior does not occur in a vacuum. Careful analysis of violent incidents shows that violent acts often are the culmination of long-developing, identifiable trails of problems, conflicts, disputes, and failures.

Violence is the product of an interaction among three factors:

  1. The individual who takes violent action.
  2. Stimulus or triggering conditions that lead the subject to see violence as an option, a way out, or a solution to problems or life situations.
  3. A setting that facilitates or permits the violence, or at least does not stop it from occurring.

A key to investigation and resolution of threat assessment cases is identification of the subject’s behaviors. Perpetrators of targeted acts of violence engage in discrete behaviors that precede and are linked to their attacks; they consider, plan, and prepare before engaging in violent actions.

Threatening situations are more likely to be successfully investigated and managed if sources of information are recognized and used to help solve problems within a given case. If you are concerned about an individual’s behavior on the UVU campus, report your concern by sending an e-mail to erbbi@uvu.edu, and listing the subject as "Concerned About A Student".

Disturbed Writing: Guidance to Faculty

A creative writing class or assignment develops the skills of students as writers. This process naturally involves the freedom of expression. It has been my experience that from time to time UVU instructors may get much more then they were expecting from a particular writing exercise. In our post Virginia Tech world, and mentality, we are becoming accustomed to instructors taking second glances at the many works that cross their desks. The purpose of this document is to give guidelines and information regarding disturbing elements in student writing. The context or content of some student writing can create an unwelcoming environment for peers or raise questions about the author’s mental state. Instructors often feel the need to address these issues. Below is an outline regarding strategies, resources, and procedures for taking appropriate action. Most importantly it offers a thinking process to follow as you determine at what point action may be necessary.

Primarily, it should be said that there are two states that may elicit discomfort from the educational system:

  1. If students feel that a program monitors and threatens them with disciplinary action for the themes and language they choose; and
  2. If instructors feel that they must take on the roles of therapists or police officers.

This document was created with the intent of striking a balance between holding safety and security in high regard while remaining connected to the educational purpose of the institution.

Identifying Disturbing Writing

A sense of what is disturbing will differ from person to person. However, most of us have a sense about what constitutes disturbing themes or disturbing writing. Content that warns of potential to self-harm or harm to others naturally caries with it what appears to be an immediate threat. Themes of violence and gruesome details or writing that portrays deep desperation may also be included in the themes that arouse concern. However, these themes in themselves do not establish a problem.

In the case of outright threats there is little information gathering needed. This is a concerning incident and should be reported to the department chair and law enforcement.

The following questions are meant to help faculty assess the student’s situation and whether what is disturbing reflects creative exploration or a more concerning thought process.

  • Is the creative work excessively violent?
  • Do characters respond to everyday events with a level (or kind) of violence one does not expect, or may even find frightening?
    • If so, does the violence seem more expressive of rage and anger than it does of a literary aesthetic?
    • Does the level of violence hold thematic purpose?
  • Are the characters’ thoughts as well as actions violent or threatening?
  • Do characters think about or question their violent actions?
    • If one set of characters demonstrates no self-awareness or moral consciousness, are other characters aware of or disturbed by what has taken place?
    • If this awareness is missing, is the student receptive to adding that layer, and to learning how to do so?
  • Is the writing of concern the student’s first piece of violent writing?
    • If yes, what is the nature of his or her other work?
    • Is violence at the center of everything the student has written, or does other writing suggest that violence is something the student is experimenting with for literary effect?
  • Are the violent actions in the work so disturbing or so extreme as to suggest they go beyond any possible sense of purpose in relation to the larger narrative?
    • Do the violent acts seem to be the point of the piece, or a component?
  • Does the nature of the violence (or the nature of the writing overall) suggest extreme depression or suicidal thinking?
  • Is the writing full of expressions of hostility toward other racial or ethnic groups?

Responding To Disturbing Writing

If, after going though the above thinking process, you remain concerned about a piece of writing, the following will serve as a process for your actions.

NOTE: If you feel or see the presence of a threat to yourself or other students, do not try to meet with the student alone or try to solve the problem alone.

  1. Immediately contact the Department chair. They can consider and advise on possible next steps.
  2. Contact Law enforcement.
  3. Contact Student Health Services to seek consultation regarding the writing.

Step 1: Instructor talks informally with the student

If you suspect that the disturbing features of the writing are literary in nature, talk to the student about the writing. Try to make this discussion as informal as possible. You are after honest and direct give-and-take. It may be best to do this before or after class, or in a common area, rather than having the student come by your office. If the student seems at all threatening, do not meet the student alone.

It may be a good idea to let the student talk as much as he or she wants. You are after a fuller sense of the person behind the writing. Try to keep an open mind. Listen carefully to the student. Try to open up the conversation in a way that makes the writer comfortable. One way to increase comfort is to focus on the text, not on the student writer. You might consider asking about the inspiration for the piece:

  • Was it inspired by an image or idea?
  • Some event in the news?
  • Some bit of history?
  • Was it inspired by another piece of writing?
  • Allow the student to contextualize what he or she has written.
    1. Most writers will be able to give you some sense of how their writing began and evolved.
  • Ask the student to discuss the motivation of the characters.
  • Ask the student for their sense of how different imagery or actions will function in relation to the overall effect of the work.
  • Try to touch on any published works the student feels are relevant.
    1. If students have read authors such as Stephen King or Anne Rice or Chuck Palahniuk, these influences may give insight into the disturbing material in the writing.

This is often a good time to offer your best counsel to the student and to provide as much support as possible in helping the student deal with any issues you perceive as a result of your meeting.

If the student offers personal information suggesting a need or wish for help, or if the student seems unable or unwilling to discuss the piece in literary terms, encourage the student to visit the Student Health Center at SC 221 (801-863-8876). You can volunteer to call for the appointment and follow through at a later class to see if the student has gone. This is called a “hook” and it represents one of the best ways to ensure someone will seek help. Most individuals need to make a commitment in order to go though the work of therapy. A hook is a person or situation that can inspire this commitment to take action.

Document your meetings and advice by writing down the date, specific advice given, and outcomes you know of.

If after this meeting you continue to be concerned about the student and his or her writing or if you think you are dealing with a student whose writing suggests that he may present a threat to self or other students, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Instructor consults with the Department Chair

If your conversation with the student does not convince you that the disturbing features of the writing are literary in nature, consult with the necessary administrator within your department.

Here is an outline of important information to share:

  1. Share the writing in question;
  2. Explain the situation in detail;
  3. Review notes from your meeting with the student;
  4. Seek advice about interacting with the student; and
  5. Present a thorough picture of the student and his or her writing.

The chair may have some history from other classes, as well as knowledge of resources beyond the department. You may determine together that it is advisable to confer with other instructors who have taught this student. This is a very valuable primary source of information in determining if there have been other concerns raised about this student’s work. An informed and engaged department chair is critical in evaluating and reducing threat.

This is the point where confidentiality becomes more critical. All discussions and decisions should be made with great concern for the student’s privacy. All correspondence and conversations should be confidential.

If it is the considered opinion of the instructor, the department chair, or one of the other parties contacted in investigating the writing that the student may pose a threat to self or others the department should move to Step 3.

Step 3: Department involves the university

At this point the department will seeks the support of specialists beyond the department. A department has multiple sources of consultation and advice:

The discussion of the student's writing should be undertaken with deep concern for the privacy of the student and his or her right to free expression. The sole concern of this action should be the possibility that the student’s writing is so disturbing that further action or intervention may be the wisest course of action.

Judging writing and student intentions is an interpretive act. It is impossible to predict behavior on the basis of writing alone. When instructors are concerned about a student, their best service is to encourage that student to engage with our specialists at Student Health Services.

Guidelines help us think through situations, but they cannot tell us what to do in any absolute sense.

The Virginia Tech English Department Faculty Page from which this document was adapted stated the following:

"One role of creative writing is to disturb and disrupt comfortable, uncritiqued assumptions. Disruption that leads to new understanding is one of its contributions to culture. Some of the greatest writing in the history of our literature, from Catullus to Kafka to Toni Morrison, is deeply disturbing. Intervention with students as a result of writing that pushes limits or is violent should be recommended only when there is genuine and deep concern upon the part of all involved that the writing in question is more of a call for help or a screamed threat than it is in any sense a literary creation."

Person sitting at a table writing in a notebook.

Recognizing and Defusing Risk

How can I identify potentially violent students?

One widely discussed preventive idea is to develop methods to identify likely offenders in instances of lethal school violence or school rampages...that is, profiling. In The Exceptional Case Study, an extended case study looking at targeted violence in the US, the United States Secret Service concluded: There is no accurate or useful profile of the school shooter.

A more promising approach Threat Assessment

Threat Assessment is based on analysis of observable behavior compiled from multiple sources and reviewed by a trained threat assessment team.

The Goal

  • To teach some of the tools of identifying potentially violent students to staff and faculty.
  • To review some strategies for defusing escalated students.

Keep in Mind

The best way to defuse a true crisis:

  • 911
  • Review tools to function in a potentially escalating situation (these tools are listed - keep reading)
  • It is not intended to train you to be first responders in a school crisis.

Group of students sitting in a circle engaged in discussion.

Agression

There are two types of aggression:

Primal Aggression

  • Is driven by adrenaline
  • The stereotypically angry manifestation of discovering your spouse in bed with a lover. You snap.
  • In the extreme, one lacks self-control.
  • Our actions cannot be predicted.

Cognitive Aggression

  • Is intent-driven.
  • Cognitive aggressors plan and methodically execute.
  • They are likely to be withdrawn, determined, detached and devoid of outward emotionality.
  • As they progress through stages of mounting aggression, their patterns can be detected.

Cognitive Aggressors/Phases

  • The most lethal of terrorists
  • While the stereotypes of “active shooters” and “going postal” suggest primal aggression (the red-faced, angry actor on TV about to explode)
  • The highest level of threat comes from the cognitive aggressor who is not emotionally engaged in the destruction of the target.

Phases
There are three phases the aggressor goes though as he/she becomes more dangerous:

The Trigger Phase

  • There may be explosions of anxiety
  • BUT individuals are coping with these anxieties and therefore are under the radar of scrutiny
  • They do not register as an immediate threat
  • Faculty & Staff - The Trigger Phase is seen as a departure from an established baseline behavior - "James is acting strange lately"

The Escalation Phase

  • The individual stops coping with their anxieties
  • There are culturally neutral, measurable observables of body language, behavior and communication:
    Hardening (Level 1)
    Harmful Debate (Level 2)
    Actions v. Words (Level 3

The Crisis Phase

  • An aggressor may then transition into the Crisis Phase on the Cognitive Aggression Continuum
  • Having identified a target and committed to its destruction
  • Aggressors tend to be a 7 or an 8
  • Limited Destructive Blows (Level 7)
  • Win/Lose Attack (Level 8)

The Window (Level 1, 2, & 3)

These levels illustrate aggressive intent prior to conflict, thereby offering the opportunity to prevent conflict rather than merely reacting to it. Because there are individuals who express their conflict with violence, it is essential to get out-in-front of conflict in order to prevent violence.

Hardening (Level 1)

  • This aggressor becomes more distant and argumentative
  • Demonstrates a lack of understanding and empathy
  • They conceal and deceive as to their motives and intent
  • Faculty & Staff - Professors may notice this "distancing" in the classroom through:
    (1) The student avoids eye contact, (2) Wearing concealing clothing (hoodies or long coats)

Harmful Debate (Level 2)

  • This aggressor becomes fixated on his or her own view
  • The individual may perpetrate cutthroat-competition, distrust, proleptic (anticipating objections only) and obstructionist behavior
  • There is no interest in the perspective of others or finding common ground
  • Faculty & Staff - This may manifest in frequent destructive and/or frivolous arguments (in class or as advisors confront code or rule violations, enforcing rules). Faculty may find students arguing in class just for the sake of argument

Action v. Words (Level 3)

  • This aggressor leaves argument behind
  • Takes action without consulting others
  • Appears detached and is self-absorbed
  • Perceives the intent of his/her intended victim(s) as not in their best interests
  • "So and so does not understand"..."they don’t care at that department"
  • Faculty & Staff - Advisors and staff may notice this behavior as: (1) Students withdrawing from contact with others, (2) Developing concerning behaviors (punching doors, pushing papers from a desk, throwing pencil or other object)

Levels 1-3 Mild Risk

  • Confrontation by reporter
  • Behavioral contract focusing on problem-solving
  • Conflict management: (1) Calm quiet voice, (2) Invite to safe, but more secluded, environment, (3) Seated if possible, (4) Take notes of complaints and issues, (5) Review Student Code Violations ("not my rules...school rules")

The Escalation Phase (Level 4, 5, & 6)

In this phase, aggressor has now transitioned into covert conflict. These levels are illustrated by:
  • Image Destruction (Level 4)
  • Forced Loss of Face (Level 5)

Image Destruction

This aggressor plants seeds of distrust with the intended victim’s community. Individuals the victim likes and respects and by whom they want to be liked and respected are the focus:

  • Stealing ideas or credit
  • Provoking anonymous/false accusations
  • Subtle undermining
  • Issues become bipolar
  • Attacks intended toward victim’s core identity.

Faculty and Staff

This may involve attempts to embarrass students in class, flouting a teacher’s or advisor’s authority, vandalism on campus or in the community.

Forced Loss of Face
The aggressor unmasks his or her victim as an enemy, direct accusations.

Levels 4-5 Moderate Risk

  • Confrontation by reporter
  • Behavioral contract or treatment plan with student
  • Contact Superior and Dean of Students
  • Student Code of Conduct response
  • Consultation Student Health Services
  • Evaluate for disability services and/or medical referral
  • Conflict management, mediation (if non-violent), problem-solving

Level 6 Elevated Risk

  • Confrontation by reporter or other school authority
  • Contacts: Dean of Students, STAT, SHS, Judicial Affairs & Dispute Resolution
  • Evaluate parental/guardian notification
  • Evaluate need to request permission from student to receive medical/educational records
  • Consider interim suspension if applicable
  • Consider referral or mandated assessment

Threat Strategies (Level 6)

In the final level of the Escalation Phase the aggressor becomes more overt toward his/her victims. They are less able to extract him/herself from the escalation. Often this level of aggression is about controlling or manipulating a victim or victims. The goal is positioning victims so that they feel the full impact of the aggressor’s threat.

Faculty and Staff

This aggressor presents an ultimatum to his or her victim(s), and aggressively responds to perceived threats, possibly on the verge of panic. A student aggrieved at the loss of an election lashes out at the winner as "having stolen the election" or threatens that "no one will be President if I can't be the winner".

Crisis Phase (Level 7 & 8)

An aggressor may then transition into the Crisis Phase on the Cognitive Aggression Continuum. Having identified a target and committed to its destruction, aggressors tend to be a 7 or an 8. Limited Destructive Blows (Level 7). Win/Lose Attack (Level 8).

Limited Destructive Blows

This aggressor is the Complicit Tactician (planning and limited violence). An individual who is complicit with the eighth and ninth-level aggressor but does not intend to murder or die for his/her cause. This aggressor will inspire others or aid others in the committing of violence. In the generic sense, this individual is an accomplice.

Win/Lose Attack

This aggressor may be prepared to give up his/her life for this cause, but intends to survive. Generically, in a military or homeland security context, a combatant.

Levels 7-8 Severe Risk

  • These levels are direct referrals to law enforcement
  • Parental/guardian notification and emergency notification to others (FERPA/HIPAA/Clery)
  • Evaluate for custodial hold
  • Direct threat eligible,law enforcement response
  • Background check
  • Consider eligibility for involuntary commitment

Harmful Debate (Level 2)

  • This aggressor becomes fixated on his or her own view
  • The individual may perpetrate cutthroat-competition, distrust, proleptic (anticipating objections only) and obstructionist behavior
  • There is no interest in the perspective of others or finding common ground
  • Faculty & Staff - This may manifest in frequent destructive and/or frivolous arguments (in class or as advisors confront code or rule violations, enforcing rules). Faculty may find students arguing in class just for the sake of argument

Lose/Lose Attack (Level 9)

Lose/Lose Attack
This aggressor does not intend to survive. Presents with a profound disconnection from his/her own well-being. Detachment or dissociation results in a calm, methodical execution of his/her plan. The so-called "Thousand-Yard Stare" - The whole body and behaviors lose animation. This aggressor will often take his own life if confronted, to avoid capture or incarceration.

Level 9 Extreme Risk

  • Direct referrals to law enforcement
  • Parental/guardian notification and emergency notification to others (FERPA/HIPAA/Clery)
  • Evaluate for custodial hold
  • Direct threat eligible, law enforcement response
  • Background check
  • Consider eligibility for involuntary commitment

Threat Protocol

DRAFT UVU SRT

The following set of questions is designed to assist in gathering information to evaluate the level of risk and appropriate interventions for issues that come before the Student Response Team (SRT). The intent is to use a standardized protocol to collect a set of relevant information for all situations. All information will be handled in a strictly confidential manner and shared only with those UVU representatives that have a need to know.

Members of the SRT may not be able to accurately answer some of the questions below. In that event and when the information is relevant in the particular situation, a decision will be made about whom else to contact and how that contact will be made in an attempt to gather the needed information (see SRT Brief). These questions are organized using the outline provided by the US Secret Service and US Department of Education in their report on managing threatening situations in schools. Thanks as well to the University of Cincinnati for their input.

SRT Committee:

  • Dean of Students
  • Police Chief
  • Director of Judicial Affairs
  • Sr. Director of Student Health Services

Bringing the Individual to Attention

  • What statements and/or behaviors were reported?
  • Who expressed concern about the individual’s actions, behaviors, or comments?
  • What was the context of the situation?
  • Are there any reasons to doubt the accuracy of the information being reported?

Identifying Information about the Individual

  • What is the person’s name, physical description, date of birth, and identification number?
  • What is the person’s permanent address, local address, phone number, and e-mail address?

Background Information about the Individual

  • Does the individual have a history of making direct or indirect threats of harm to other people or property?
  • Is the individual a loner, prefer isolation, or seek to remove self from situations that involve interpersonal contact?
  • Does the individual have a history of holding grudges or reacting to conflicts in a defensive and/or angry manner?
  • Has the individual been involved in any previous incidents that resulted in attention from the UVU Police Department or Student Judicial Affairs? If so, what was the outcome?
  • Has the individual previously engaged in stalking, harassment, or bullying (including but not limited to physically following, telephone calls, emails and other forms of communication, personal confrontations) of a fellow student or a university employee?
  • Does the individual have a criminal record or a known history of violence?
  • Does the individual have a history of violence against intimate partners or other close friends or family?

Current Information about the Individual

  • Is the individual known to be having difficulty coping with a stressful event?
  • Does the individual’s behavior show a lack of respect for the rights of others?
  • Does the individual perceive him/herself as being singled out or treated unfairly?
  • What is the nature and quality of the individual’s current relationships with family, peers, and authority figures?
  • Has the individual’s academic or work performance (including but not limited to attendance, behavior, quality and quantity of output) recently undergone a significant negative change?
  • Has the individual recently shown signs of a deteriorating personal situation, such as social withdrawal, declining state of personal appearance or hygiene, mood changes, altered speech patterns, confusion, extremely high or low energy, preoccupations that disrupt regular functioning, mention of death or suicide?
  • Has the individual recently experienced any significant rejections, personal or relationship losses, or other type of setback that may lead to feelings of intense stress, despair, or humiliation?
  • Has the individual recently demonstrated signs of difficulty managing anger?
  • Does the individual currently have access to firearms or other weapons (broadly defined), Does the individual have the skills to use them?

Information about Potential Violence-related Behaviors

  • Has the individual produced orally, in writing, or by behavior, communications that suggest a preoccupation with school or work related attacks or identification with perpetrators of school or work-place violence?
  • Has the individual engaged in any behavior, such as weapon-seeking, obtaining illegal drugs, staging rehearsals, or other means of inflicting serious harm to indicate that he or she is planning or making preparations for a violent event against the university or any person associated with the university?
  • Has the individual acted in a self-destructive manner and/or used language that causes concern about the possibility of self-injury?
  • Has the individual made any comments that express or imply consideration of mounting a violent event at the university or against another person?

Motives for Violence

  • To what extent does the individual view violence as a legitimate means to an end?
  • Does the individual seek revenge for perceived injustices done by the university or any person associated with it?
  • Are there any known situational, organizational, interpersonal, or contextual factors that could provoke, encourage, or contribute to a violent episode by the individual?
  • Does the individual show signs of desiring or seeking for attention, recognition, or notoriety?
  • Does the individual indicate a desire to die or be killed?

Possible Targets of Violence

  • Are the communications or actions that are drawing attention directed towards specific individuals, departments, or organizations?
  • Does the individual exhibit any signs of intent to target a specific event or place?
  • Has the individual demonstrated signs of violence (written, oral, or behavioral) against specific groups of students, departments, genders, ethnic groups, religions, or racial groups?