Guidelines For Determining If The Threshold Has Been Crossed

In deciding if the suicidal behavior crosses the threshold warranting mandatory assessment, the SBAT uses the perspective of a “reasonable” observer, which asks the question of whether a reasonable observer would interpret the student’s statements or behavior as suicidal. The threshold of suicide behavior may be met if at any time in the last three months a student has exhibited significant suicidal ideation that is persistent, has expressed suicidal intent or threat, or has made or engaged in actions with the intent to end his/her life (suicide attempt.) Guidelines utilized by the SBAT include:

  • The duration and magnitude of the action and its potential effectiveness are immaterial in deciding whether the threshold has been crossed.
  • Significant ideation with persistent thoughts, images, or intent with or without any conscious plan to engage in self-harm or suicidal behavior may cross the threshold.
  • Statements or actions that occur in the context of being intoxicated or using drugs may cross the threshold since a high percentage of students who commit suicide do so in the context of being intoxicated or using drugs.
  • Actions that prepare for eventual suicide may cross the threshold.
  • Self-destructive actions, such as cutting and self-mutilation, in the absence of intent, may cross the threshold.
  • Euphemisms and joking statements may require more information and the establishment of a boundary to determine whether the threshold has been crossed. A pattern of joking comments in the face of concern and a request to stop making them may cross the threshold.
  • The threshold of suicidal behavior may not be met if the student expresses suicidal ideation that is vague, passive or passing.

The above are intended as guidelines only. In all cases, the SBAT will make an individualized assessment based on all of the information available. If a student meets criteria for imminent suicidal risk, the threshold is automatically crossed and immediate actions are taken such as calling 911 or contacting the police or hospital emergency room.

Statements and actions that cross the threshold uniformly result in the same requirement of three sessions of mandated assessment. Students are informed about the appeal process and can appeal to the Office of the Dean of Students the accuracy of reported information. The student can appeal the facts contained in the report but may not appeal the decision that the student’s behavior crossed the threshold of suicidal behavior mandating assessment.