Aggression includes verbal or physical acting out in a destructive, threatening or violent manner. Many studies have shown that previous violent behaviour is the single strongest predictor of future violence. Having severe psychotic symptoms, failure to take medication and using alcohol or street drugs are other predictors of violence.

Aggression can be triggered by many things including fear, misinterpretation of the intent of others (person thinks they are in danger), too much stimulation, and drugs and alcohol. 

If you have any concerns about aggression, share these with your clinician so you can work together to come up with a plan to ensure safety.

What to do if someone is possibly starting to become aggressive

If you or a member of your family is in fear of being hurt, then you need to attend to safety needs first.

Leave and call the police. If you have an emergency plan – use it.

If you feel safe and your family member is not likely to immediately hurt anyone, you can try to calm your family member down:

  • Have one person appointed as a spokesperson
  • Have only 1-2 other people in the room create a safe distance – provide room for your family member so they don’t feel crowded
  • Turn off radio, and tv, and stereo and other electronics
  • Remain calm and non-threatening
  • Use slow speech with simple statements
  • Be caring but also confident
  • Do more listening than talking
  • Empathize with their fear and pain
  • Avoid discussing emotionally charged issues
  • Don’t argue or criticize

When your family member is calm

  • Discuss how violence or fear of violence is unacceptable
  • Discuss what happened and what changes might be made in the future to prevent a repeat
  • Consider if your family member will be able to follow through with what you’ve discussed