Worried About a Troubled Student?

Probably all students will be distressed at some point in their academic career. For most, support and encouragement from others will suffice.

The Counseling Center (544.8616) and the Spiritual Life Center (544.8348) are great resources and are the appropriate referral places for most situations and students.

Critical Concerns

Some situations require more care and action. Foremost among these are situations in which a student is expressing homicidal or suicidal intentions, seems to be out of touch with reality (seeing or hearing things that are not there ), is obviously disoriented, or engaging in any kind of threatening behavior like stalking or physical intimidation.

In such situations it is imperative that you immediately contact Campus Safety & Security and the Dean of Students Office.

According to the American Association of Suicidology, one or more of the following behaviors or emotional factors are warning signs of suicide:

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped - like there is no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep, or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life

Certainly not all students who exhibit these signs will be suicidal. However, most people who commit suicide do give some clues of their intentions. Often these are ambiguous statements like the following:

  • "Nothing really matters anymore."
  • "I will be gone by then, so I don't care."
  • "Everybody will be better off without me."
  • "I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up."
  • "Sometimes I wonder if people would notice if I wasn't here."

Behaviors that can be clues include writing essays with morbid or violent themes, giving away beloved belongings, getting one's life in order, and taking risks one would normally avoid.

You should never ignore these behaviors and statements, ambiguous as they may be. You do not have to directly confront a student, but inaction is not an option. Any faculty, staff, or student who has concerns about someone's mental health should share those concerns immediately with the Dean of Students Office.

Communicating Your Concerns

At LC, the Dean of Students Office serves as a communication hub so that information and action can be coordinated.

The Dean can take administrative action and marshal resources to intervene to protect the student and the campus community. A referral to the Counseling Center is always appropriate, but be sure to also notify the Dean of Students office.

If your concern about a student's mental health arises after hours or on the weekends, please contact the Information Desk. Through the Dean on Call system (DOC) a Student Development professional is always on call during the academic year.

Contact information for referring troubled students:

  • If you ever have a question or concern about a student, please contact Dean John Eccles at eccles@lynchburg.edu in the Dean of Students Office at 434.544.8226.
  • If he is not available, please relay your information to Dean Carole Furter at furter@lynchburg.edu, Dean Amanda McGovern at mcgovern@lynchburg.edu, or his executive assistant, Karen Zongrone, at zongrone@lynchburg.edu 434.544.8226.
  • If they are not available, please contact Kristen Cooper, cooper.k@lynchburg.edu, Director of Residence Life, at 434.544.8320.
  • If it is after hours, over the weekend, or you get voice mail and you need an immediate response, please contact the Info Desk at 434.544.5555 or 434.544.8100. Leave your name and number with the switchboard operator and your message will be relayed to the DOC.