What's the Difference Between a Crisis and a Concern?

If you are concerned that someone’s safety is at risk, that’s a crisis. A concern may require adult intervention, but not immediately.

If you are concerned that someone’s safety is at risk, that’s a crisis. It requires immediate intervention and action on your part such as telling a trusted adult. A concern may require adult intervention, but not immediately, and there’s no risk to anyone’s safety or well-being. 


If you, or someone you know, demonstrates any of the following behaviors:

Thinking or talking about death, suicide, or harming themselves.

  • “I wish I were dead.”
  • “The world will be better off without me.”

Feeling hopeless or that things will never get better

  • “Things will never be better.”
  • “I just feel like ending it is the only way to make the pain go away.”

OR you or your friend:

  • is taking excessive risks (driving recklessly or under the influence).
  • is having significant substance abuse issues.
  • gives away important possessions.

Talk to your friend; let them know you care. Never keep a secret about someone feeling suicidal—tell a trusted adult!

If you know something, say something! Your friend will thank you later.


Concerns also need to be shared, so they can be addressed as soon as possible. But, they don’t pose an immediate risk to someone’s safety.

If you notice the following things in yourself or a friend:

  • Sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Feeling or seeming angry or irritable most of the time
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Often seems sad
  • Is no longer able to cope with big or little stressors
  • Withdraws from friends
  • Feels tired all the time and lacks motivation or energy
  • Begins to “self-medicate” with illicit substances
  • Increased absences from school and lack of work completion

Tell your friend you’ve noticed these changes in a nonjudgmental way and that you care about how he’s doing. Encourage her to speak with a trusted adult and offer to go with her. You may decide to tell an adult on your own. That’s OK too. Remember, friends are important and can be very supportive. Adults can be too, and they can also help access appropriate resources and services.

Note: If you are in crisis, text NEEDHELP to 85511, call 1-800-273-TALK, or dial 911. You’re worth it! 

Student Wellness: Tips and Strategies

Get tips to help manage your emotions and see what to do if you are in crisis.
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Mental Health Resources and Emergency Services Information

National and Local Crisis Resources
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