How To Help



The student poses an imminent risk to themselves or others; the student’s behavior is threatening, dangerous, or reckless. Call 911 or
WashU Police at
The student is distressed, but you are uncertain of how serious it is; the student’s behavior has left you concerned or uneasy. File a WashU Cares Report; consult with WashU Cares or The Habif Health and Wellness Center.

For medical campus students, contact WUSM Health Services.

The student is having significant academic or personal issues and could use additional support, but you are not concerned for the student’s immediate well-being. Refer to the appropriate campus resource

Step 1: Determine if the situation is an emergency.

A situation is an emergency if the student:

  • Poses physical or verbal threats directed at self, others, or property
  • Is disconnected from reality or exhibiting psychosis
  • Displays unmitigated disruptive behavior

If you are in an emergency situation, please call the Washington University Police Department at 314-935-5555.

Step 2: If the situation is not an emergency, CONSULT.

Consult with one or more of the resources listed on this website, including WashU Cares, Student Health Services, your faculty chair or the administrator in your school who works with student issues (if you are faculty), your supervisor (if you are staff), or your RA or other trusted advisor (if you are a student).


If you feel safe meeting with the student, express your concern and inquire about their well-being. You are not acting as a therapist or counselor. Your role is to listen, support, and ask pertinent questions.

  • Express concern in a non-judgmental way (ex: “I’m worried, because you’ve seemed really down lately”).
  • Listen attentively to the student’s response. Maintain eye contact and pay attention to the student’s non-verbal communication.
  • If you are concerned that a student is suicidal, ask direct questions (ex: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”)
  • Avoid trying to “fix” the student’s problems or brainstorming solutions. Instead, when you respond, try to reflect back what you hear the student saying (ex: “It sounds like you’re feeling really overwhelmed right now.”)

Step 4: REFER

Identify an appropriate resource and explain the limitations of your knowledge and experience. Be clear that your referral does not mean that you think something is “wrong” with the student or that you are not interested in them.

Step 5: REPORT

Complete a WashU Cares report. Documenting your concern in a timely manner can help with early intervention. WashU Cares staff may reach out to you for follow-up.

Please know that WashU Cares makes every effort to protect students’ privacy, so we are often unable to provide detailed information about how the situation was resolved.