According to the FBI there are approximately 109,968 Missing Persons reported as missing in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database today. This means that law enforcement has taken a report from a family member who has a lost loved one and has entered it into the national database that can be cross referenced by other law enforcement agencies around the U.S.
There is however, another undefined silent population of over 1 million persons who are lost among us. The ''Missing, Missing' population; these are persons who may be unreported as missing with mental illness as well as dependent children, who may be lost among the homeless population or whose whereabouts are unknown.
Inconsistent reporting of missing persons combined with the stigma of drug addiction and mental illness contributes to silent crimes of exploitation of at risk persons and their children. There are detrimental effects not only to the person who is lost but to the existence of an unknown and unaccounted for child who may be lost with him or her. Some facts to consider:
People with mental illness, regardless of gender, are 2 1/2 more times likely to be the victims of violent crime than the general population.
An estimated 50% of homeless adults with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar depression have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
Individuals with co-occurring mental illnesses and substance use disorders are among the most difficult to stably house and treat due to the limited availability of integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment in most communities.
Consequences for society are costly as those with co-occuring disorders constantly recycle through a life on the streets, and in and out of healthcare and criminal justice systems. Without the establishment of more integrated treatment programs, the cycle will continue.
Outpost for Hope, a nonprofit agency dedicated to raising awareness of the missing, missing population suggests that families and caregivers visit www.outpostforhope.org to learn more about how to locate lost loved ones and plan for the recovery and reunification process.
(c) Libba Phillips 2005