Helping Students in Distress

Boston University’s Charles River campus at night

Students in Crisis

A crisis is a situation in which an individual's usual style of coping is no longer effective, and the emotional or physiological response begins to escalate. As emotions intensify, coping becomes less effective, until the person becomes disoriented, nonfunctional, or attempts harm. If a student is in a serious mental health crisis, you might see or hear the following:

  • Suicidal statements or suicide attempts
  • Written or verbal violence or acting out violently
  • Destruction of property or other criminal acts
  • Extreme anxiety resulting in panic reactions
  • Inability to communicate (e.g., garbled or slurred speech,disjointed thoughts)
  • Loss of contact with reality (e.g., seeing or hearing things that aren't there, expressing beliefs or actions at odds with reality)
  • Highly disruptive behavior (e.g., hostility, aggression, violence)

What to Do When You Suspect a Serious Crisis

If you believe there may be imminent danger of harm to a student or someone else, as evidenced by these crisis symptoms, immediately call the Boston University Police (617-353-2121) or Medical Center Public Safety (617-414-4444). If you need help in assessing the situation, call the Office of the Dean of Students at 617-353-4126 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. After hours you can call 617-353-3569 and ask to be referred to the dean on call. For urgent situations, Behavioral Medicine providers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 617-353-3569.

Boston University Resources


Boston University Police
24 hours


Medical Center Public Safety
24 hours


Student Health Services
24 hours (Medical Clinician on call after hours)


Behavioral Medicine
24 hours (Mental Health Clinician on call after hours)


Crisis Intervention Coordinator
24 hours (Crisis Coordinator on call after hours)


Dean of Students (business hours)


Dean on call (after hours)


Educational Resource Center


University Service Center


Career Services


University Chaplains


Disability Services