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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 the context of all of the facts that can be known.

Violence, especially that targeted toward a specific victim, most commonly stems from the interaction of 4 factors: 

  • Attempts to harm or kill self
  • 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.

  • 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

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

  • 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.

Following are examples of behaviors and circumstances, from each of the primary factors, 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.

If you are aware of a situation that has indicators of concern like the ones listed below, please share what you know with the Threat Assessment Team or the VMI Police Department (x7017).

Source: Virginia Tech Threat Assessment Team

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