If you’re worried someone might go missing again

Some people will go missing more than once. This is not always the case but some people, because of whatever is happening in their life or whatever they are struggling with, may go missing on many occasions.

Why someone might go missing again

Some of the reasons that people go missing more than once include:

  • A continued struggle with their mental health.
  • A continued struggle to cope with home life.
  • Financial difficulties that feel unmanageable.
  • Addiction issues.
  • Grooming, or being coerced into going missing by someone or a group of people.

What to do

We suggest trying to speak to your person about going missing, and ask whether you can do anything to help, should they feel like going again in the future. Try not to make them feel guilty, or ask them not to go missing for your or other loved ones’ sake. This could feel really overwhelming, and make them feel less able to cope. Instead, ensure they have someone to talk to, and try to support them to seek help for any particular issues they are facing.

Each time someone returns from being missing there is a chance to help. Being supportive, making space to listen to what is happening for them and trying to address any underlying issues can make it less likely that they will go again in future.

How to support them

If you are worried that your person might go missing again you can seek help.

If they are a child, you can speak to their school, to children’s social care, or to national or local support services.

If you are worried about their mental health, speak to your GP or to mental health helplines.

If you suspect that they might be being groomed, share your concerns with professionals who can help them at the earliest possible time. Going missing is one warning sign of exploitation. Others signs include sudden changes in behaviour, having money or items that you can’t explain, traveling to places that they have no connections or reasons to be, and spending time with new, often older, friendship groups. You can find out more about exploitation here.

If they are an adult, encourage them to speak to their GP or any national helplines who might be able to help with the specific issues they are experiencing.

If your person is going missing unintentionally, for example because of dementia, because of their experience of neurodiversity, or because of acute mental health episodes, then you may need to consider how to best support them differently:

  • It may be useful to speak to any professionals involved with their care about preventative actions you can take.
  • There are a range of tools available for collecting information about your loved one in one place so you can share it with the police quickly to help in the search if they do go missing (e.g. Herbert Protocol).
  • In some areas, you may be able to use our Search Dog Heroes service which involves capturing the scent of your person which then allows the use of trained search dogs to help if they do go missing.