People with mental health issues occasionally leave home or other secure housing to become homeless and/or missing, leaving family members distraught and desperate to locate them. If you have a missing loved one with serious mental illness, and are concerned about their safety, the information on this page may be helpful.
Suggestions for Reporting and Locating A Missing Friend or Family Member
- Notify your local police immediately of your missing loved one and your concerns about their welfare, and provide them with all the information you can. *Note: In Santa Clara County, there is no waiting period to report a “missing person”, as defined on the San Jose Police Department “Reporting Missing Persons” web site. If you have any questions concerning a missing person, please contact your local police station, or call the Missing Persons Unit at 408-277-4786
- If the person remains missing more than three (3) days, ask the police to place them on the FBI’s National Computer (NCIC) list as an “endangered adult”. This computer network provides information nationwide. The network will give you a police number to use when searching for your relative.
- Prepare a one-page flyer which includes a picture of the missing person, along with his or her vital statistics (age, height, weight, hair color, eye color, clothes last seen wearing, last known location, etc.). Email it to your local NAMI and post it at other locations your loved one may have frequented.
- Be aware that, when missing persons with mental illness over age 21 are located, police and other agencies cannot hold them, or ask that they be held against their will, unless they have committed a crime, or if there is guardianship or court order specifying an action to take when the individual is found. Also, police agencies are supposed to notify you when they have found the person, but they cannot tell you where they were found, unless the person agrees to releasing that information to you.
- Visit the online National Missing Persons Database
- Try www.namus.gov – a national information clearinghouse and resource center offering free, secure, easy-to-use, online technology for finding missing, unidentified and unclaimed persons across the U.S.
- Try posting to the Missing & Homeless, a Facebook community that, in three years, has gone from a few hundred followers to about 43,000, helping to reconnect families with their homeless loved ones, particularly those with mental illness.
- For more suggestions, visit the online National NAMI Missing Persons Support website