Though not all threats are equally dangerous, all threats should be taken seriously. This is especially true when someone has specific plans for how they would carry out a violent act and has access to the means to do so. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a rating scale of threat levels. On their scale, your friend might be considered a “high level threat.”
This matter should be immediately brought to the attention of your parents and with their assistance, the police should be notified. Whether or not your friend is serious about the threat is for the police to judge. After an investigation, they will determine the seriousness of the threat and take action accordingly.
Research by the FBI indicates that many people who ultimately commit acts of violence intentionally or unintentionally disclose details about their plans prior to the act of violence. This is a concept called leakage. Many violent plots have been averted because a brave individual came forth to inform law enforcement. In this circumstance, you must be that brave individual.
You might feel uneasy about contacting the police and that is understandable but it is imperative they are notified. You may think “this may be a false alarm and I don’t want to overreact” but this would be a mistake. Your gut reaction was to be concerned about his threats, especially after you tried to talk him out of hurting people. It concerned you enough to write a letter about it. You did the right thing by writing to Psych Central. Your next very important steps are to consult your parents and go to the police. I hope you do the right thing. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle