By Mike Rush
St. Louis (KSDK) - A local university is taking a proactive approach to recognizing the warning signs before a tragedy happens. They want to keep students from hurting themselves and others.
Fontbonne University considers itself a close-knit community, and it's using its faculty and staff as a way of watching out for the 2,500 students.
Last week the staff started getting a form called Recognize and Report Distressed Students. Professors and the rest are required to sign it.
The program, which the university has used for about three years, encourages the staff to look for signs students might be struggling. It's designed to keep the students and those around them safe.
Although Fontbonne says this is not in reaction to any particular event, it is as timely as ever. The University of Colorado is under review for how it handled accused movie theater shooter James Holmes.
A university psychiatrist reportedly warned her colleagues Holmes could be a danger to others.
Fontbonne asks faculty and staff to pay attention to things like suicidal statements, threats to others, erratic behavior, change in grades or mood, and even poor hygiene and changing physical appearance.
"Sometimes they may be dealing with depression, sometimes it may be anxiety, sometimes they may even have eating disorders. It's to really provide help if they're not receiving it," said Claudia Charles, the Director of Counseling.
Faculty is not asked to step in and contact the student, but to notify the qualified person within the university who may be able to offer help.