People who hurt themselves or others often show warning signs before they carry out an act of violence. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be easy to miss the signs, or dismiss them as unimportant. Significantly, missing the signs can have tragic consequences. Notably, in 4 out of 5 school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it.
Now more than ever, it’s essential to know the signs. Students and educators who participate in our Say Something program learn these life-saving warning signs. They’re taught to recognize signs and get help when their classmates show they may be in danger or need help. Warning signs can include things such as thoughts, feelings, actions, and behaviors. At-risk people can show significant or sudden changes in behavior or personality.
9 Critical Warning Signs of Violence
Here is our list of nine potential warning signs* that can signal an individual may be in crisis or need help:
1. Suddenly withdrawing from friends, family and activities (including online or via social media)
2. Bullying, especially if targeted towards differences in race, religion, gender or sexual orientation
3. Excessive irritability, lack of patience, or becoming angry quickly
4. Experiencing chronic loneliness or social isolation
5. Expressing persistent thoughts of harming themselves or someone else
6. Making direct threats toward a place, another person, or themselves
7. Bragging about access to guns or weapons
8. Recruiting accomplices or audiences for an attack
9. Directly expressing a threat as a plan
* NOTE: This isn’t a complete list of all warning signs. Exhibiting one of these signs doesn’t necessarily indicate imminent violence. When concerned about troubling behaviors, tell a trusted adult or call 911 if there is an immediate threat.
Watch Evan, Our Warning Signs PSA
How You Can Help Prevent Violence
Learn more about the signs and when and how to speak up with our Say Something program. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, programs are available at no-cost to middle and high schools nationwide.
Join with more than 7 million caring people like you who have made the promise to protect our kids. This is a Promise to truly honor the lives lost by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.