When a friend or loved one vanishes, those who talk about them afterwards often describe their disappearance as being out of the blue. But is it always? Are there ever indicators or early warnings we can look out for?
In some situations, yes.
Anyone close to you who has particular stressors in their lives, such as debts, housing issues, caring responsibilities and mental illnesses or other health problems could be a risk. Dealing with these becomes a delicate balancing act for some and a sudden deterioration in the situation can cause people to seek an escape.
One indicator is changes in contact levels, particularly where someone has always been reliable when it comes to keeping in touch, whether that’s with you, friends or family members or even on social media. They may be reluctant to make future plans or seem uncertain about confirming dates for family gatherings.
Is the person in question suddenly withdrawn and preoccupied? Are they acting out of character in other ways, for example, spending extravagantly having always been frugal, drinking heavily where they didn’t in the past?
Keep dialogue open with friends and family you are worried about, tell them that you are there whenever they need you and always listen to them when they tell you what is going on, not just to give them advice. Never accuse them of anything and help them find support if you can.
Ultimately, you may not be able to stop them choosing to leave, but at least you can be alert to the risk of their doing so. In such cases, you may find it reassuring to keep services like People Finder UK close to hand. We specialise in finding people in the UK and the sooner we start looking, the better the chances of reconnecting you and your loved one.