There is no one right formula to follow when responding to a distressed student. What is most important is to approach the student in a calm, gentle manner that conveys genuine concern and a sincere desire to understand and assist. Keep in mind that active listening and being there for the student is most effective in assisting the student.
Another key aspect of intervening is to determine how urgent the situation seems to be. The more apparently life-threatening the situation, the more rapidly one needs to intervene in bringing in appropriate resources. If the student appears seriously disoriented or incoherent, or if the situation appears imminently life-threatening, the best action to take is to call 911 immediately.
The following guidelines apply when the situation does not appear to be imminently life-threatening:
Maintaining interpersonal boundaries appropriate to a relationship with the student is important. Extending oneself can be a gratifying experience when kept within realistic limits. Short of emergency situations, sometimes there is not much a concerned person can do if the distressed student is not receptive to assistance.