McCracken said every case filed goes through a standard investigation process followed by a secondary examination if investigators find irregularities.
DPS looks for lapses in witness testimony and inconsistencies in factual reports, he said.
“We look at a case from all angles,” he said. “It is just as important to eliminate people from suspicion than it is to determine probable cause to charge someone.”
Young said most falsified reports are minor issues — but cases that could threaten campus safety can generate media attention.
He said in 2008 a student falsely claimed to have been the victim of an armed robbery and assault near Davis Library.
Young said the student’s injury was found to be self-inflicted, but not before it received considerable media attention. The student was later convicted of the misdemeanor crime.
“Reports which, if true, reflect an ongoing threat to the campus community may initially elicit a different level of communication to the University,” Young said.
McCracken said he hopes the charges will deter false reports in the future.
But officials said they hope more people who have issues with self-mutilation will report their problems to experts who can help.
Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center, said self-mutilation receives little media attention, but it is a significant issue.
“The number of reports that are filed with police are far fewer than the number of incidents that actually occur,” Phoenix said.
Avery Cook, a clinical social worker at Counseling and Wellness Services, said that while every person who self-mutilates does so for different reasons, the individuals are usually experiencing distress.
She said she urges students who are feeling strong anxiety to come to Campus Health Services and speak with a counselor.
She said students often need help to reach out for guidance.
“When someone is extremely distressed, it is hard for them to take action,” she said.
“The most important thing you can do is monitor your friends and encourage them to seek help.”
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.