Signs of Distress
The Campus Suicide Prevention Center of Virginia has created a handbook for Faculty, called "Recognizing and Responding to Students in Distress". For detailed information on recognizing and responding to a cadet, please click on this link to access the handbook.
The following indicators can be important signs of distress. You may notice a cadet exhibiting one or more of the academic, physical, or emotional signs and decide that something is wrong or you may have a "gut-level feeling" that something is amiss. If the latter is the case, don't dismiss your feelings or feel that you need to wait for tangible "proof" that a problem exists. A simple check-in with the cadet may help you get a better sense of his/her situation.
- Deterioration in quality/quantity of work
- A negative change in classroom or research performance (e.g., drop in grades)
- Missed assignments or exams
- Repeated absences from class or from lab
- Disorganized or erratic performance
- Decline in enthusiasm in class (e.g., no longer choosing a seat in the front of the room)
- Cadet sends frequent, lengthy, “ranting” or threatening types of emails to professors
- Continual seeking of special provisions (e.g., late papers, extensions, postponed exams, and projects)
Academic Integrity Violation
While a cadet’s distress or mental anguish should not serve as an excuse for an academic integrity violation, the existence of an academic integrity violation may certainly signal a high level of personal distress.
- Falling asleep in class or other inopportune times
- A dramatic change in energy level (either direction)
- Worrisome changes in hygiene or personal appearance
- Significant changes in weight
- Frequent state of alcohol intoxication (i.e., bleary-eyed, hung-over, smelling of alcohol)
- Noticeable cuts, bruises or burns on cadet
- Inappropriate emotional outbursts (unprovoked anger or hostility, sobbing)
- Exaggerated personality traits; more withdrawn or more animated than usual
- Expressions of hopelessness, fear or worthlessness; themes of suicide, death and dying in papers/projects
- Direct statements indicating distress, family problems, or other difficulties
It is possible that any one of these signs, in and of itself, may simply mean that a cadet is having an “off” day. Consider consulting with a colleague, supervisor, the CCC, or other trusted member of the VMI community to share your observations and discuss how you might respond (see "How To Respond")