When a missing person returns
Whether someone comes back quickly or after a long time, the experience can be traumatic for friends, family and the missing person themselves.
You may feel relieved and happy when someone comes home, but it is also normal for you to still have difficult or ambiguous feelings. The reasons why someone went missing may not have been resolved. The person may be at risk of going missing again.
Tell the police
When someone you have reported missing comes home or is found, you must tell the police. You can:
We will need to confirm that they are safe and well. Depending on the circumstances the police might want to talk to them in person.
Tell other people
Let other people know as well, especially any charities, friends or volunteers who have helped with the search. Get missing posters taken down and stop social media publicity if you can.
Dealing with the missing episode
Supporting the missing person
People do not usually go missing without a reason.
After the person is found or returns home, it is important that they have the chance to talk about why they went missing. Addressing whatever problems they are having might help prevent them going missing again.
If they don’t want to talk to you, see if you can find a friend or someone else they can talk to, like the charity Missing People.
It's not just about what people say. You might learn something about whether someone who went missing is okay or not from things like:
- their body language
- what they look like
- what they're wearing
- their mood
- changes to their physical or mental health
They might need extra support from professionals, for example their GP or mental health services. Depending on the circumstances the police, social services or another organisation might want to talk to them as well.
National mental health organisations
Other advice and support
Don’t forget about your own feelings and welfare. You might be worried about the missing person and about what could have happened to them while they were away. You might feel awkward talking to other people about the disappearance.
The charity Missing People help families at all stages, including after someone comes back.
If someone doesn’t want to come home
Sometimes missing adults are found but do not want to come back or tell people where they are.
This can be very difficult for friends and family, but it is their right and we are not allowed to tell you where they are. We are allowed to tell you that the person has been found.