Threat, Warning Signs and Concerning Behaviors

Violent acts and threats are not tolerated at William & Mary, and must be reported so that appropriate action can be taken.

Definitions:

Threat: a threat can be verbal or nonverbal. It can be communicated orally, in writing, through gestures, or by any other means, including electronic transmission. It can be communicated directly to an intended recipient or through a third party.

Acts and/or threats of violence: any of the following:

  • intentionally causing physical injury to another, including sexual assault and domestic and dating violence;
  • intentionally damaging property;
  • using language or engaging in behavior that threatens physical injury to another or
  • intentional damage to property and has the effect of intimidating, frightening, coercing, or provoking others;
  • brandishing or using a weapon in a manner not required by the individual’s position (see also the university’s Weapons on Campus Policy and Regulation); and
  • inciting or aiding any of the above.
Concerning Behaviors

Behaviors do not have to be violations of law or university policy to be of concern. Community members are encouraged to report incidents of concerning behaviors that may not qualify independently as a threat. While the signs, threats and indicators are detailed below, instances of changed behavior that may singly or in combination generate concern include, but are not limited to:

  • References to planning a violent or destructive event or harming others
  • Preoccupation with weapons, violent events or persons who have engaged in volent acts
  • Disruptive or bizarre conduct
  • Extreme and inappropriate reactions or responses, such as angry outbursts
  • Unexplained and alarming changes in behavior or conduct
  • Suicidal comments or threats
  • Verbal or written abuse or harassment, including direct contact, voicemail, e-mail, social networking sites
  • Unusual or extremem conflicts with others
  • Loss of temper or control
  • Talking about violence, glorification of or reference to other violent incidents 
  • Violent outbursts or displays
  • A significant, inadequately or unconvincingly explained increase in absenteeism, especially if the employee or student has previously had consistent attendance
  • Anger or excessive irritability or impatience
  • Appearing stressed/hopeless/depressed
  • Steals/sabotages the work of others
Suicidal warning signs

The most effective way to help in preventing suicide is to know the warning signs, take those signs seriously, and respond appropriately. Fortunately, people who are suicidal CAN be helped with the proper treatment. Common warning signs of suicide include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped, like there is no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Expressing no reason for living or no purpose in life
  • Inability to see the future without pain
  • Inability to make decisions or think clearly
  • Decision to stop taking prescribed medication for depression or other psychological disorder
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Other indicators of a person experiencing distress
Depression

Symptoms may include sleep disturbances, poor concentration, change in appetite, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, withdrawal, poor hygiene, loss of self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and preoccupations with death.

Agitation

Symptoms include being disruptive, restless or hyperactive, and antagonistic, and may include an increase in alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Disorientation

Symptoms may include odd or unusual thinking and behavior, lack of awareness of what is going on around them, misperception of facts or reality, rambling or disconnected speech, and behavior that seems out of context or bizarre.

Drug and Alcohol Use

Signs of intoxication during work or class, or other inappropriate times.

The identification of concerning actions or behaviors may not indicate a path towards destructive behavior. They do indicate the need for support at some level. This process will allow the university to determine the correct level of concern so that appropriate support can be provided.