I spend a lot of time writing about missing persons cases and the events leading up to them. I feel compelled to share with you some extremely common trends that you, and people you love, should know about.
While my list does not cover each and every possible way to prevent the disappearance of yourself, or someone you know, it’s a good place to start. Here are my top seven:
- Tell people where you are going and when you should be expected to return. This one sounds like a no-brainer, but I cannot tell you the number of disappearances – especially among teenagers – that begin with a person either lying about where they are going, not telling anyone at all, or being vague to the point that no one can be sure where to start looking if the person disappears. If you lie about your whereabouts and you get lost, or someone abducts you, the odds you will be found before something tragic happens are significantly lower. It isn’t worth it.
- Do not attempt to get home on your own if you are intoxicated. This goes for men and women. Predators look for people in vulnerable states like this. Also, you are much more prone to having an accident if you are intoxicated, alone, and trying to get home or to another location.
- Don’t leave a friend on their own to get home after a night of going out, partying, drinking, or what-have-you. Don’t assume they have a ride or leave them stranded without one if you have a fight. Also don’t assume that if their home is close by they will make it there safe and sound. Look out for your friends and other people – whether they are male or female. Some people simply never make it home.
- If someone is acting suspicious, or following you with a vehicle, take a picture of their license plate (and vehicle) – and/or of the person – and send it to people you know as quickly as you can. Tell those people where you are and that you need help. If you have a phone, but no cell service, pretend to make a call and find a way to signify to the person you are worried about that you are talking to someone about them. Trust your gut in these situations.
- Never assume that because a person is male that they are at a lower risk of disappearing. Male children, teenagers, and men go missing all the time. It can happen to absolutely anyone.
- If you see someone in a situation that feels off, or where you have any concern for their safety at all, report the situation to police immediately. It is better to be in a position where you find out everything is fine, versus one where you later learn you might have been in a position to help but second-guessed whether you should.
- If you have a weak signal and can’t make a call, try to send out text messages with your location and a request for immediate help. Sometimes texts will go through when calls won’t.
That’s all for now. Stay safe and look out for the people you know and love. Sometimes the simplest actions can avert a devastating outcome.