Students in Crisis

Students deal with emotionally stressful events in a variety of ways, and sometimes their methods of coping may become less effective or ineffective altogether.

The following symptoms are indicative of a person needing immediate assistance:

  • Evidence of self injury such as cutting or burning.
  • Suicidal statements, gestures, or attempts.
  • Acts or threats of harm to other individuals or property.
  • Extreme anxiety resulting in panic reactions.
  • Extremely disruptive behavior, such as outbursts, aggression, or hostility.
  • Inability to communicate effectively, such as impaired speech, disoriented thought, or babbling.
  • Loss of contact with reality, such as hallucinating, or hearing/seeing things that are not present.
  • Homicidal threats (written or verbal), or attempted homicide or assault.


When dealing with a student in a crisis situation, remember the following factors:

  • Ensure everyone’s safety, including your own.
  • Know your limits and take action to protect yourself and others.
  • Remain calm.
  • Talk to the student in a calm manner.
  • Share your concern and belief that the student needs assistance.
  • Avoid touching the student if he or she is agitated, violent, or intoxicated.
  • Do not threaten or taunt the student.
  • Avoid arguing with the student.


If you feel a student may be at risk for suicide:
Statements about harming one’s self should be taken very seriously. It is not uncommon for people to have suicidal ideation at some point in their life, but verbalizations indicating suicide suggests that the student needs immediate help.

Please take any mention of suicide seriously and provide immediate help by taking the following steps:

  • Talk to the student sympathetically.
  • Do not promise confidentiality to a student who may be considering suicide.
  • Do not avoid discussing the topic of suicide. Asking the student about suicide won’t "put the idea into his/her head."
  • Recommend that the student seek help from Counseling Services immediately.
  • If the student agrees to seek help, recommend that he/she contact Counseling Services right away from your office/classroom by calling 717-796-5357. Remind the student to let us know that they need an immediate appointment. If the incident in question occurs after hours, contact the Department of Safety at x6005.
  • If the student is reluctant to call, offer to call and make arrangements for them, or offer to walk the student over to the Engle Center.
  • If the student refuses, it is important not to let the issue "resolve itself." Let the student know that you will be contacting Counseling Services. Call us immediately so we can contact the student.


If you believe that a student needs immediate assistance, please contact Safety at x6005. Safety officers and staff from the Counseling Services are on call to assist you. Counseling Services can be reached during regular office hours (8:00a.m. – 5p.m.) by calling 717-796-5357; after hours, please contact the Department of Safety at x 6005.

A student may come to you for advice on how to help a friend or roommate they believe may be at risk for suicide. Engle Center counselors are available to consult with students who are concerned the welfare of someone else,  and this is especially important if they feel their friend is at imminent risk. If their friend is a Messiah student,  both Public Safety and the Engle Center can be contacted on an emergency basis.  You can also direct them to additional information on responding to someone who may be at risk for suicide at our What to Do if You Think Someone May be at Risk for Suicide page.