Do Your Part

There are many behaviors and circumstances that may indicate an increasing risk for violence, significant disruption to others, or that a person is in need of assistance. The significance of any one behavior or circumstance is often difficult to determine. Therefore, the threat assessment process is designed to review the situation in context of all of the facts that can be known. Violence, especially that is targeted toward a specific victim, most commonly stems from the interaction of four factors: subjects, targets, environments, and precipitating events.

See Something, Hear Something, Say Something

If you see suspicious activity, please report it. To report suspicious activity, contact University Police at 828.232.5000; if it is an emergency, call 911. When reporting, please make sure to describe specifically what you observed, including:

  • Who or what you saw
  • When you saw it
  • Where it occurred
  • Why it’s suspicious

Examples of Warning Signs

Individuals who escalate to disruptive or violent action may exhibit certain behaviors or characteristics. Some behaviors are a clear indication of a pending threat, whereas others could be when coupled with other factors and events.                   

  • Attempts or threatens to harm or kill self
  • Threatens to harm others, either overtly or through more subtle comments or behaviors 
  • Unexplained increases in absenteeism
  • Decreased performance in work or academics
  • Resistance to change or reasonable limits
  • Over-reaction to changes in policies/procedures
  • Extreme or sudden changes in behaviors
  • Numerous conflicts with others
  • Difficulty learning from past behaviors or experiences
  • Displays paranoia or distrust
  • Alienates others or isolates self from others
  • Makes statements indicating approval of use of violence to resolve a problem
  • Identifies with or idolizes persons who have engaged in violence toward others.

Targets may have vulnerabilities that make them attractive as a potential victim.

  • Unclear or inconsistent expectations
  • Consistency of travel/movement/patterns
  • Denial in the face of a clear threat posed
  • Passive orientation to safety
  • Ease of access

An environment that facilitates, permits, or does not discourage violence can promote the formation of a threat.

  • Chronic unresolved conflict
  • High perceived levels of stress
  • Toleration of aggressive or hostile interactions
  • Perceived distrust/devaluing
  • Existence of pecking order/cliques

Precipitating events may trigger reactions.

  • Losses, such as:
    • Job/Income
    • Status
    • Significant other/relationship
  • Perceived rejection or injustice
  • Ostracized by others
  • Health problems (e.g., head injuries)

Note that such precipitating events may be real, perceived, or anticipated by the subject of concern.

These are examples of behaviors and circumstances that may serve as indicators of developing concerns. These examples are meant to help you identify potential concerns during your daily interactions with others. These examples are NOT all-inclusive and this information is not intended to be used as a checklist.