Missing People aims to be ‘a lifeline when someone disappears’. We provide helpline support to anyone who is missing or at risk of going missing, every day between 9am and 11pm. We work closely with the police to find and safely reconnect missing people.
We also provide practical and emotional support to families and friends concerned about a missing person. If the person remains missing we offer services such as an online forum, telephone counselling, and events.
Missing People also carries out original research related to our work and seeks to promote good practice.
All our services are free and confidential.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
Missing and suicide are inextricably linked. With over 20 years of experience of ‘missing’, we know that many people who go missing sadly end up taking their own lives.
We provide 7-day confidential emotional support and crisis intervention by phone, email and text to young people and adults, many of whom express suicidal thoughts or plans. Through our partnerships work with police across the UK, we undertake local and national publicity when someone goes missing, with a direct appeal to the missing person to contact us for confidential support. We play a key role in reaching out to high risk groups.
We have a dedicated service for young people who have run away or who might be thinking of going missing. We find that many young people prefer to reach out for support in a time of crisis by text.
We have developed a pilot project of an innovative safeguarding tool, called TextSafe®. When someone is reported missing to the Police, they can alert us and request that we send a text message to the missing adult or child, offering confidential help and support.
More recently we have developed a new pilot of Suicide Risk TextSafe®, in partnership with Samaritans and the police.
When any person goes missing, it is important that they know they have options and are empowered to make informed decisions about their next actions. A missing adult who is believed to be suicidal may be experiencing extreme emotional distress which could be minimised with confidential support from Missing People or Samaritans. Suicide Risk TextSafe® provides a way of proactively reaching out to missing adults via text message and telephone call.
Following a text message about the services of Missing People and Samaritans, the missing person will be telephoned by a Samaritan volunteer and offered emotional support. This lets the missing person know that we care for their safety and want to help and encourage them to get in touch, thus contributing towards statutory safeguarding requirements and duty of care to vulnerable people.
We also provide unique family support to anyone who has a loved one missing; this includes a specialist telephone counselling service for families living with ambiguous loss. Our support continues after there is a resolution, including when families are bereaved by suicide.
What are your current priorities?
Continue to provide support and crisis intervention to adults and young people who are suicidal.
We will continue to provide emotional and crisis support via phone, email and text. We will continue to ensure we have a highly skilled and trained team of staff and volunteers to provide appropriate support and intervention.
Source expert partners who will be able to provide training and consultation around our work supporting people at risk of suicide.
Through membership of the NSPA and seeking out other experts in the field of suicide prevention we will endeavour to develop our learning and understanding of missing and suicide. We will also look to develop our training for staff and volunteers specifically around supporting people who are suicidal when they contact us.
Seek out and form partnerships in the field of bereavement after suicide. We will seek out and form partnerships with key agencies working in the field of bereavement after suicide. We aim to ensure we can signpost families who have experienced a loved one being missing and who have taken their own life to receive appropriate, timely and specialist support.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Resource – As a 7-day service supporting families, vulnerable adults and young people there is always an ongoing challenge of funding and resourcing and meeting the need.
Specialist training for staff and volunteers in crisis intervention and working with people who are suicidal provided by experts in the field.