There are physical, behavioural, emotional and academic signs that indicate a student is experiencing difficulty. A student may exhibit a few or many of these signs. Some of these signs may indicate a student’s safety could possibly be at immediate risk and require action.
The following is a list of potential signs as indicated on the More Feet on the Ground website.
- Deterioration in physical appearance or personal hygiene.
- Excessive fatigue, exhaustion; falling asleep in class repeatedly.
- Visible changes in weight; statements about changes in appetite or sleep.
- Noticeable cuts, bruises or burns.
- Frequent or chronic illness.
- Disorganized speech, rapid or slurred speech, confusion.
- Unusual inability to make eye contact.
- Arrival to class bleary-eyed or smelling of alcohol.
- Direct statements indicating distress, family problems or loss.
- Difficulty controlling emotions.
- Angry or hostile outbursts; yelling or aggressive comments.
- More withdrawn or animated than usual.
- Expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness; crying or tearfulness.
- Expressions of severe anxiety or irritability.
- Excessively demanding or dependent behaviour.
- Lack of response to outreach from course staff.
- Shakiness, tremors, fidgeting or pacing.
- Repeated absences.
- Missed assignments, exams or appointments.
- Deterioration in quality or quantity of work.
- Extreme disorganization or erratic performance.
- Written or artistic expression of unusual violence, morbidity, social isolation, despair or confusion; essays or papers that focus on suicide or death.
- Continual seeking of special provisions (extensions on papers, make-up exams).
- Written or oral statements that mention despair, suicide or death.
- Severe hopelessness, helplessness, depression, social isolation and withdrawal.
- Statements to the effect the student is “going away for a long time.”
- Written or oral expressions of a desire to injure or kill someone else.
If a student is exhibiting any of these signs, she/he may pose an immediate danger to her/himself. In this situation, contact professional resources on your campus (such as counselling, health or emergency services) and ask for their assistance.
- The student is physically or verbally aggressive toward her/himself, others, animals or property.
- The student is unresponsive to the external environmental; she/he is:Incoherent or passed out.
- Demonstrating a severe disturbance of cognitive, behavioural or emotional functioning.
- Displaying disruptive behaviour that appears to be out of control.
- The situation feels threatening or dangerous to you.
In these or similar situations, call Campus Security (x3200) or your local police (911) and ask for immediate assistance.
- Expressions of concern about a student by her/his peers, teaching assistant or other colleagues.
- A hunch or gut-level reaction something is wrong.