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Finding missing people - thoughts on how easy it is to drop off the grid.

jim30

LE
Hi everyone,
Firstly, a big thank you for all those who responded to my thread offering advice on my brother going missing last night. It was incredibly helpful advice and very timely – genuine THANK YOU.

As luck would have it, it looks like the individual has returned, but the circumstances are very odd to put it mildly and we’re still trying to get to the bottom of it all. With that in mind, I thought a ‘hot wash up’ of things identified may be of value to help people in future situations.

  • Its incredibly scarily easy to drop off the net. Even in this day and age – but people spot it quickly if you can’t be contacted.
  • Don’t be afraid to say something if the pattern of activity is not ‘normal’ – we only found out because multiple friends started saying ‘where is X – we’ve not heard from him today’. It may have been a short period of time, but changes to the pattern of life can and do happen – don’t be afraid to call it out when you see it. Chances are others are thinking it too. Don't wait 24hrs if you know they would normally be around far more quickly.
  • If you do a lot of social media or other online activity, and decide to stay offline for a while – tell someone. One of the key triggers is the lack of online activity – let people know you won’t be around for a bit. It reduces the worry immediately.
  • If you are worried about a vulnerable relative, try to work out who matters in their friendship group and form a list of contact emails/numbers – its much easier to get in contact this way and divvy up tasks if you know in advance who speaks to them. On this occasion half the challenge was working out who to talk to.
  • If someone reappears having vanished without reason or explanation for a sustained period of time, then the worst thing you can do is shout and scream at them. Chances are they are in a vulnerable mental place, and pressure can only make it worse.
  • Social media does make a difference – we did a lot of retweeting and using Facebook that yielded some valuable information to help build a timeline of events.
  • In the point before the police can/will get involved, act to build a common picture of what has gone on – I established a timeline of events speaking to friends to work out where he’d been, who spoke to him and what the timings were. This proved invaluable in working out possible issues and missing times / issues of concern.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends difficult questions – I was very polite but interrogated his mates down the phone about drink, drugs and private life to understand if anything was going on that needed to be known – understanding if someone was high, or if they were stone cold sober when they left a building makes a critical difference in doing your own tracing.
  • Don’t assume it can’t happen to you – we’re a very normal family without any drama or issues. So when someone drops off the face of the earth without reason for 2 nights, it is really unsettling to put it mildly. We’re all creatures of routine, so when it gets broken up, it really throws us all.
Thanks again for the support – very much appreciated.
 
Hi everyone,
Firstly, a big thank you for all those who responded to my thread offering advice on my brother going missing last night. It was incredibly helpful advice and very timely – genuine THANK YOU.

As luck would have it, it looks like the individual has returned, but the circumstances are very odd to put it mildly and we’re still trying to get to the bottom of it all. With that in mind, I thought a ‘hot wash up’ of things identified may be of value to help people in future situations.

  • Its incredibly scarily easy to drop off the net. Even in this day and age – but people spot it quickly if you can’t be contacted.
  • Don’t be afraid to say something if the pattern of activity is not ‘normal’ – we only found out because multiple friends started saying ‘where is X – we’ve not heard from him today’. It may have been a short period of time, but changes to the pattern of life can and do happen – don’t be afraid to call it out when you see it. Chances are others are thinking it too. Don't wait 24hrs if you know they would normally be around far more quickly.
  • If you do a lot of social media or other online activity, and decide to stay offline for a while – tell someone. One of the key triggers is the lack of online activity – let people know you won’t be around for a bit. It reduces the worry immediately.
  • If you are worried about a vulnerable relative, try to work out who matters in their friendship group and form a list of contact emails/numbers – its much easier to get in contact this way and divvy up tasks if you know in advance who speaks to them. On this occasion half the challenge was working out who to talk to.
  • If someone reappears having vanished without reason or explanation for a sustained period of time, then the worst thing you can do is shout and scream at them. Chances are they are in a vulnerable mental place, and pressure can only make it worse.
  • Social media does make a difference – we did a lot of retweeting and using Facebook that yielded some valuable information to help build a timeline of events.
  • In the point before the police can/will get involved, act to build a common picture of what has gone on – I established a timeline of events speaking to friends to work out where he’d been, who spoke to him and what the timings were. This proved invaluable in working out possible issues and missing times / issues of concern.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends difficult questions – I was very polite but interrogated his mates down the phone about drink, drugs and private life to understand if anything was going on that needed to be known – understanding if someone was high, or if they were stone cold sober when they left a building makes a critical difference in doing your own tracing.
  • Don’t assume it can’t happen to you – we’re a very normal family without any drama or issues. So when someone drops off the face of the earth without reason for 2 nights, it is really unsettling to put it mildly. We’re all creatures of routine, so when it gets broken up, it really throws us all.
Thanks again for the support – very much appreciated.
Now.

About that gay bar in Clapham. :)

Seriously though. Good news.
 
Hi everyone,
Firstly, a big thank you for all those who responded to my thread offering advice on my brother going missing last night. It was incredibly helpful advice and very timely – genuine THANK YOU.

As luck would have it, it looks like the individual has returned, but the circumstances are very odd to put it mildly and we’re still trying to get to the bottom of it all. With that in mind, I thought a ‘hot wash up’ of things identified may be of value to help people in future situations.

  • Its incredibly scarily easy to drop off the net. Even in this day and age – but people spot it quickly if you can’t be contacted.
  • Don’t be afraid to say something if the pattern of activity is not ‘normal’ – we only found out because multiple friends started saying ‘where is X – we’ve not heard from him today’. It may have been a short period of time, but changes to the pattern of life can and do happen – don’t be afraid to call it out when you see it. Chances are others are thinking it too. Don't wait 24hrs if you know they would normally be around far more quickly.
  • If you do a lot of social media or other online activity, and decide to stay offline for a while – tell someone. One of the key triggers is the lack of online activity – let people know you won’t be around for a bit. It reduces the worry immediately.
  • If you are worried about a vulnerable relative, try to work out who matters in their friendship group and form a list of contact emails/numbers – its much easier to get in contact this way and divvy up tasks if you know in advance who speaks to them. On this occasion half the challenge was working out who to talk to.
  • If someone reappears having vanished without reason or explanation for a sustained period of time, then the worst thing you can do is shout and scream at them. Chances are they are in a vulnerable mental place, and pressure can only make it worse.
  • Social media does make a difference – we did a lot of retweeting and using Facebook that yielded some valuable information to help build a timeline of events.
  • In the point before the police can/will get involved, act to build a common picture of what has gone on – I established a timeline of events speaking to friends to work out where he’d been, who spoke to him and what the timings were. This proved invaluable in working out possible issues and missing times / issues of concern.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends difficult questions – I was very polite but interrogated his mates down the phone about drink, drugs and private life to understand if anything was going on that needed to be known – understanding if someone was high, or if they were stone cold sober when they left a building makes a critical difference in doing your own tracing.
  • Don’t assume it can’t happen to you – we’re a very normal family without any drama or issues. So when someone drops off the face of the earth without reason for 2 nights, it is really unsettling to put it mildly. We’re all creatures of routine, so when it gets broken up, it really throws us all.
Thanks again for the support – very much appreciated.

Great news, glad it ended happily
 
@jim30 , need to Raise a point though.

Sometimes people just like to be left alone for a bit. That means turning the phone off.

The advent of social media and mobile phones means that it’s sometimes difficult to get away from things.

Getting away doesn’t necessarily mean bad things have happened.

I’ve often found that when dealing with family members the use of an intermediary to reach out can be good. If I need to reach out to my brother who has been suffering depression I normally get my wife to make contact. He’s more likely to respond to her.
 

jim30

LE
@jim30 , need to Raise a point though.

Sometimes people just like to be left alone for a bit. That means turning the phone off.

The advent of social media and mobile phones means that it’s sometimes difficult to get away from things.

Getting away doesn’t necessarily mean bad things have happened.

I’ve often found that when dealing with family members the use of an intermediary to reach out can be good. If I need to reach out to my brother who has been suffering depression I normally get my wife to make contact. He’s more likely to respond to her.

Agree entirely - I think the trick though is to remind people, particularly where their pattern of life is very social media intense that there is nothing wrong with doing it (indeed it should be encouraged), but please just tell one person before you go off the grid, so people dont worry. Here it was a case of someone droppping out completely, totally contrary to all prior pattern of life and triggering lots of independent alarm bells by people because it was so unusual.
 
@jim30 , need to Raise a point though.

Sometimes people just like to be left alone for a bit. That means turning the phone off.

The advent of social media and mobile phones means that it’s sometimes difficult to get away from things.

Getting away doesn’t necessarily mean bad things have happened.

I’ve often found that when dealing with family members the use of an intermediary to reach out can be good. If I need to reach out to my brother who has been suffering depression I normally get my wife to make contact. He’s more likely to respond to her.
But then as @jim30 says , if ANY of you want to be left alone for a while , just tell someone first .
 
Sadly, people go missing all the time and it rarely has a happy ending; in your brother's case, I was genuinely worried but, thankfully, it has resolved itself with him being safe even if, perhaps, he is not entirely well.

There was a 999 call in Bristol yesterday evening, where a member of the public became (very) concerned for a man's safety near the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The emergency servcies did not not locate the man in question and called off the search at c.2100 hrs i.e. last light. It appears that he disappeared back into the woods.

You have to wonder what will become of him next?
 
A grown man disappears for a day or so and people seem to think its something spectacular. Before we had social media it still happened, we just didn't have people hashtaging over a adult deciding not to tell everyone his business.
 
A grown man disappears for a day or so and people seem to think its something spectacular. Before we had social media it still happened, we just didn't have people hashtaging over a adult deciding not to tell everyone his business.

I get your point Stacker and certainly theres no one going to notice / be bothered if im dark for a day or 2 -

On the other hand years ago we didn't have people living on / through social media.

There are people I know who if they didn't post at least 17 times a day I would wonder what happened to them.
If somebody is an absolute social media whore then, especially with the prevalence of smart phones, a day without posting is really unusual.
In @jim30 case - its possible that the number of people expressing concern exaggerates** the concern required. Of course what can, be missed is whether its lots of people with trivial concerns or lots of people with serious concerns - social media increases the chances of encountering the former - yet the natural order is less trivial and the number increases as level of concern grows - social media turns that on its head.

I have to ignore multiple friends requests from my Daughters friends - That baffles me why the hell would you a pretty late teen want to be friends with an unattractive middle aged man especially your friends dad to me its bizarre to them its normal.

I ignore them as I really dont want to know as much about my Daughters private life and they use face book the way we used to wonder off for a private chat - its like im always listening in.
I dont block them because in an emergency Its a point of contact.


** I dont mean that - wrong word - 2 people worried fair enough its odd 20 people express concern then it seems a significant concern -

No slight on Jim intended or indeed concern and reactions

Theres threads* on here from me started within hours of my Daughter going missing
*Same incident 1 serious thread 1 in the Naafi - partly because it increased chances of it being seen partly because I didn't think it fair to deny the forum the opportunity to "I would" etc
 
Good news Jim. How’s his Arrse?

I didn’t engage but I’ve recently experienced a similar situation when my 84 year old mother disappeared. The police found her after a few hours but the experience was sobering. And no, she’s not senile. She’d just decided to go up Snowdon on the train.....

More seriously, I was amongst the last few people to see a young man who disappeared what is now nearing 20 years ago. I simply had a conversation with him in a chip shop which was recorded on TV and eventually shown on Crimewatch. I’ve had several police interviews over the years. Edited to add; this was long before social media; back then we made firm commitments to be somewhere and people got sorted when we didn’t show up. It must be massively hard to literally lose a loved one.

I’mgad to hear you don’t have to go through any more stress...
 

Dredd

LE
its possible that the number of people expressing concern exaggerates** the concern required.

** I dont mean that - wrong word - 2 people worried fair enough its odd 20 people express concern then it seems a significant concern -

It may be that the word you were looking for was "amplified".
 

theoriginalphantom

MIA
Book Reviewer
One of the facebook groups - warriors RV ops - regularly have posts about ex-forces person going missing, in a bad way (can someone local pop round)
Sometimes we get there in time. They also use the Zello app sometimes as a chat room, sometimes to keep everyone in touch when they are looking for, or dealing with someone.
 

jim30

LE
I think its about balance and putting things in context. For us, the individual in question is outgoing, social and very much in contact with people constantly. So, when they literally disappear, without reason or warning and don't come home for 2 nights and are not contactable via any of the means they are usually immediately available on, and none of a good group of close knit friends know where he is (and they've done the usual ring round of hospitals etc), then it is easy to understand the worry. They have a broad social network that quickly reached out, but none of the network had seen or heard from the individual - hence the growing worry because none of the usual suspects or any of their friends who also knew him had heard or seen from him.

Its not so much the time they are missing, but the significant change to pattern of life that gets alarm bells ringing - much like security posters advise you to report concerns when someone doesnt look /sound like normal, its about people spotting something is definitely not right and acting on it appropriately.
 
Agree entirely - I think the trick though is to remind people, particularly where their pattern of life is very social media intense that there is nothing wrong with doing it (indeed it should be encouraged), but please just tell one person before you go off the grid, so people dont worry. Here it was a case of someone droppping out completely, totally contrary to all prior pattern of life and triggering lots of independent alarm bells by people because it was so unusual.
PM me his phone number and I’ll call him a tw@t on your behalf :)
 
A grown man disappears for a day or so and people seem to think its something spectacular. Before we had social media it still happened, we just didn't have people hashtaging over a adult deciding not to tell everyone his business.
I'm inclined to agree. We have made ourselves incredibly reliant on mobile phones & social media.

I found myself driving home from work. Why? Because I left my mobile phone there. I question my own sanity.

Many people live their lives on social media (says the guy who gets paid to work on social media). We also feed off each other's anxieties, increasing hysteria. Mobile phones give us the expectation of instant, on demand, 24/7 contact.

My missus, for example, never bothers charging her phone & frequently leaves it out of earshot. Conversely, if I don't answer mine within the first two rings, I'll come out of meetings with a dozen or more missed calls from her.

Sometimes it's nice to go off grid for a few days and unless the person doing it is at significant risk, it seems completely normal to me. Maybe I'm just odd.
 
It is frightening how someone can just disappear without a trace, living in York there are still posters up all over and livery on the back of buses and police vans appealing for information on Claudia Lawrence. I can only assume it wasn't a happy ending for her and her remains are probably still hidden somewhere in York or the surrounding countryside.
 
I think its about balance and putting things in context. For us, the individual in question is outgoing, social and very much in contact with people constantly. So, when they literally disappear, without reason or warning and don't come home for 2 nights and are not contactable via any of the means they are usually immediately available on, and none of a good group of close knit friends know where he is (and they've done the usual ring round of hospitals etc), then it is easy to understand the worry. They have a broad social network that quickly reached out, but none of the network had seen or heard from the individual - hence the growing worry because none of the usual suspects or any of their friends who also knew him had heard or seen from him.

Its not so much the time they are missing, but the significant change to pattern of life that gets alarm bells ringing - much like security posters advise you to report concerns when someone doesnt look /sound like normal, its about people spotting something is definitely not right and acting on it appropriately.

I think your last paragraph sums it up perfectly Jim, if you’re advised to report things that look suspicious why not the same when someone’s behaviour suddenly changes? I’d bet a pound to piece of sh!t there are many many people that wished ‘social media ‘ had been around when their loved ones/friends went missing and possibly never heard from them again but maybe, just maybe might have done if their odd or sudden change had been picked up sooner
 

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