Response Guide

The response guide will assist you in determining how to respond to distressed, disruptive or at-risk individuals. The guide is divided into three categories:

  • situations requiring immediate assistance,
  • situations requiring some assistance and
  • situations you can address on your own.

Urgent Situations Requiring Immediate Assistance

Immediate risk to self or others

Types of signs and symptoms:

  • Situation presents an immediate threat of harm to self or others (e.g., individual has a weapon, verbal threats are being made).
  • Individual discloses intent to harm others or take own life.
  • Multiple indicators of distress are evident (e.g., difficulty focusing, decreased appetite or weight loss, poor class attendance, can’t sleep and appears exhausted).
  • Issue is impacting multiple areas of an individual’s life (e.g., family, academic, social, personal).



  • Individual attempts or threatens to cause physical harm to others.
  • Individual states that if a situation is not resolved appropriately “you will pay for it.”
  • Individual threatens immediate danger to self (e.g., threatens to shoot self, take pills, jump off a building).
  • Student in the classroom is yelling, does not respond to the instructor’s attempt to de-escalate the situation.
  • Individual is unconscious, unresponsive or tells you that pills were ingested.
  • Student has not followed an employee’s repeated requests to stop the disruptive behavior and is ignoring the employee’s request that the student leave the office.


How to respond:

  • Call 911 when the individual poses an immediate danger to self or others.
  • Contact an emergency response.
  • Share documentation with your supervisor or chair/director per department protocol.

Situations Requiring Assistance

Possible risk to self and others

Types of signs and symptoms:

  • Individuals may be at risk to self or others.
  • Several indicators of distress are evident (e.g., difficulty focusing, decreased appetite, poor class attendance, can’t sleep).
  • Expressions of hopelessness.
  • Emotional reaction is out of proportion to situation.
  • Issue is impacting more than one area of an individual’s life (e.g., family, academic, social, personal).



  • Individual exhibits behavior that seems disorganized or paranoid. Individual may not be in touch with reality.
  • Individual reports a history of self-injurious behavior (e.g., cutting or burning self) and reports the urge to engage in this behavior again.
  • Individuals experiencing a sudden and distressing event (e.g., death of a loved
    one, break up, divorce) and seems emotionally inconsolable.


How to respond:

  • Consult with a resource about your concerns.
  • Inform a distressed individual that you would like to call a mental health resource to obtain guidance about how to best help.
  • Call NEOMED Police at 330.325.5911.

Situations You can Address & Make Referrals

Minimal risk to others

Types of signs and symptoms:

  • Individual does not express or indicate issues of risk to self or others.
  • Only a few indicators of distress are evident (e.g., difficulty focusing, trouble with sleep).
  • Disrespectful or inappropriate language.
  • Visible distress, academic difficulties, sleep or eating problems, emotional outbursts, social withdrawal.
  • Issue is typically impacting only one area of the individual’s life (e.g., family, academic or social).



  • Individual reports being distressed or anxious and denies suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
  • Individual sends an email with profanity demanding immediate response.
  • Individual appears to have distorted body image and frequently references a desire to lose weight.
  • Student raises voice at the office receptionist and demands assistance.
  • Individual is stressed about an upcoming exam and discloses history of test anxiety.


How to respond:

  • Offer information and resources.
  • Share your concerns and offer campus and/or community resources that may help with the individual’s issue. Consult this card for specific resources.
  • Consult with the Office of Student Affairs to determine an appropriate course of action for disruptive behavior.
  • Consider following up with the individual to express concern and see if any help
    is needed getting connected to campus resources.
  • If in doubt, consult with your supervisor or chair/director.


Main Campus
Phone: 800.686.2511
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Northeast Ohio Medical University