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Helping a Student in Distress


Caring and supporting each member of the Fontbonne community.

Our students face a variety of challenges. College itself is a challenge, as is balancing a busy schedule of school, work, family, and social activities. Challenges can interfere with students’ ability to do well and enjoy their time at Fontbonne. Some times, the challenges students face are too great for them to handle alone and they need support.

The Signs of Concern below will help you to recognize when a fellow student may need support. These signs may be behaviors that you observe or that a student tells you about.

Signs of Concern

  • Suicidal talk, threats, actions
  • Self-harm: “cutting” and other behaviors which physically harm the body
  • Bizarre/erratic behavior; out of touch with reality; hallucinations, delusions
  • Isolation from others
  • Loneliness
  • Victims of bullying/harassment
  • Poor social skills;  doesn’t fit in and feels rejected
  • Hostility/aggression (includes verbal and non-verbal behavior, and written hostility/aggression)
  • Frequently skipping class or work study
  • Increased or problematic drinking (of alcohol)
  • Drug use
  • Frequent crying
  • Decreased energy/enthusiasm
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Poor hygiene (if this is out of the norm for the student)
  • Deteriorating physical appearance/health
  • Excessive dependency on others
  • Inability to concentrate and focus attention
  • Doing poorly in school
  • Problems at work, home, and/or in relationships
  • Losing a loved one, or serious illness of loved one
  • Financial pressures

How to Respond

If you observe or hear of any of the signs of concerns listed above, or if you are experiencing any of them, please share this information as soon as possible with the Department of Counseling & Wellness (314-889-1434; ccharles@fontbonne.edu).  In most cases, reports can be made anonymously.

Immediately Report the following “emergency” behaviors:

  • Any suicidal talk, actions, and threats. Never assume a suicidal person is “crying wolf.”
  • Any verbal or written comments indicating a desire or intent to harm another person.
  • Students who appear to be out of touch with reality (i.e. extremely confused, irrational, hallucinations, delusions).
  • If you are on-campus, call public safety at 314-889-4596.
  • If you are off-campus, call 911.

Don’t promise the student that you won’t tell anyone and don’t try to solve other students’ problems by yourself. Keeping each other safe requires a group effort.