Psychological and Educational Perspectives

From a psychological perspective, there are a number of reasons why students make threats. They may be made to obtain a reaction to perceived injustices, as a blind str ike back at those who have caused harm in their lives, from intense suicidal or self-harm feelings, as symptoms of a serious mental health disorder, as an attempt at processing their rage and frustration regarding being teased or bullied or as leakage concerning an actual attack plan. Understanding the range of threats helps the BIT/ CARE team address potential bias and stay focused on an accurate assessment of the risk.

An important consideration when assessing threat is the academic context under which the uniting was shared. An essay about self-injury with disturbing content as part of an assignment where the teacher asks the students to “Write about one of the hardest challenges vou have overcome in vour life” should be somewhat expected.The writing in Figure 5.5 is taken from an essay written by a college student in Massachusetts about their self-injury. While it is certainly upsetting, but it could be argued the student was asked to share this exact kind of material (Van Brunt & Solomon, 2019).

Likewise, there are times where a student’s mental ilhiess is clearlv in the fore-


front of the writing. When a student is experiencing reality-testing difficulties

Essay from student on self-injury

FIGURE 5.5 Essay from student on self-injury.

Mental illness written threat

FIGURE 5.6 Mental illness written threat.

related to schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the BIT/ CARE team may be faced with sorting through rambling, psychotic speech to assess the risk. It is important to remember that individuals with mental illness are far more likely to be the victim that the perpetrator of an attack (Van Brunt & Pescara-Kovach, 2019). An example of tills type of case is provided in Figure S.6. This was a student from a Washington, DC, university who had posted some concerning and rambling content to the administration that raised concern around potential t hie at and violence (Van Brunt & Solomon, 2019).


Update on the Reddit Case

For those interested in the outcome of the case which started this chapter, the post found in Figure 5.7 was made prior to the deadline for the suicide. In addition to the school’s post, there were dozens of supportive posts made by those inside and outside the college community.

Moving Forward

In the next chapter, we will offer an approach to rating the risk of violence as it relates to written content. This approach is based on an expert system model, which focuses on drawing the best practices of evidenced-based research into a model that is useful for members of a BIT/ CARE team to address the potential for violence.This is a practical method that seeks an approach that provides clarity wrhen balancing the challenges outlined in the first part of this book.


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