Identifying those who would harm
“People who might be violent usually have other types of problems long before they begin to act out in violent ways. We want people to be looking for the early warning signs.”
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An initiative launched a year ago to provide help and resources for faculty, staff and students who may pose a threat to themselves or others has resulted in a marked increase in outreach by the campus community to University Police and campus counseling and referral offices.
Director Sharon Mitchell says student referrals to Counseling Services (645-2720) from concerned faculty and staff in the 2007 calendar year totaled 172, up from 49 the previous year.
While numbering fewer than 20, calls to University Police (645-2222) voicing concern about students, faculty and staff have led to seven interventions, reports chief Gerald W. Schoenle Jr.
The 24-hour Employee Assistance Program Helpline (645-4500) provides consultation and referral when concerns arise about faculty or staff who may pose a threat to themselves or others. The helpline, says Jennifer Bowen, assistant vice president of human resources, has received a “handful” of calls over the past year.
Schoenle says interventions by University Police have ranged from connecting people to needed services to meeting with concerned faculty and staff to discuss appropriate responses to situations.
While emphasizing the importance of early intervention, Mitchell notes that in the vast majority of cases, people who need help are not a danger to others.
“People who might be violent usually have other types of problems long before they begin to act out in violent ways,” she says. “We want people to be looking for the early warning signs.”
She notes that during the past two years, more than 2,000 members of the UB community have participated in training sessions focusing on helping people in emotional distress and identifying suicidal students. In addition, University Police has made presentations to campus groups on handling workplace violence.