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.

Find a police station

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

NHS mental health services

Mind mental health charity

Samaritans

Other advice and support

Domestic abuse

Child sexual exploitation

County lines

Your welfare

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.

Missing People website

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.