Types of Behavior & Appropriate Ways to Respond

Troubling Behaviors cause us to feel alarmed, upset, or worried for a person’s well-being.

  • Changes in academic performance in the classroom
  • Disjointed speech or writings
  • Persistent sadness or unexplained crying
  • Change in patterns of social interaction
  • Changes in physical appearance or personal hygiene
  • Problems concentrating or remembering things or making decisions

Disruptive Behaviors interfere with or disrupt the educational process of other students or the normal functions of the University.

  • Threats to self or others
  • Demanding, verbally abusive, or intimidating behavior
  • High levels of irritability or inappropriate excitement
  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing or hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality)

Threatening Behaviors typically leave us feeling frightened and in fear for our safety or the safety of others:

  • Physical confrontations or attacks
  • Direct threats of harming self or others
  • Allusion to or display of any weapon
  • Transmission of threatening correspondence

Responses to Troubling Behavior:

  • You may wish to initiate a private, non-confrontational conversation with the student about your concerns
  • Identify options available to the individual and make referrals to campus resources as appropriate
  • Follow up with the student
  • Based on the student’s response, referral to the BIT may be appropriate.  Contact the Office of the Dean of Students 901.678.2187 to discuss your concerns if you aren’t sure how to proceed. 

Responses to Disruptive Behavior:

  • Verbally ask that the disruptive behavior stop
  • If behavior does not stop, ask the person to leave the area
  • If the student refuses to comply with your directive, consider contacting the Police Services (901.678.4357)
  • Inform the student of the expected behavior changes, timeline for changes, and the consequences should behavior not change
  • Document all interactions with the student
  • Failure on the student’s part to respond accordingly to your directives may indicate the need for referral of the matter to the BIT 

Responses to Threatening Behavior:

  • If physical violence has transpired or is imminent, immediately contact Police Services at 901.678.4357
  • Forward information to the BIT as soon as possible
  • Do not attempt to initiate contact with a student if you feel it would endanger your safety

Responding to Threats of Self-Harm/Suicide:

When a student makes any reference to suicide, threat of suicide, or attempt at suicide, a judgment should be made by a mental health professional about the seriousness of a possible suicidal thought or behavior.

References to or threats of self-harm should be treated seriously. Mental health evaluations and treatment are available at the Counseling Center at 901.678.2068.

Suicide attempts are first and foremost a medical emergency. If dangerous or suicidal behavior appears imminent or has already occurred, contact Police Services at 901.678.4357 or dial 911.

*Please remember that instances that involve an immediate risk/threat to the University community should be referred to University of Memphis Police Services at 901.678.4357.