26 November 2020

My 19-year-old son left home and we can’t track him down

26 November 2020

The problem… 

Eighteen months ago, my eldest son left home, and we haven’t seen him since. He was 19 last month and I’m desperate to find him. I’ve tried Social Services but they were useless, and I’ve asked any of his friends that I can find, but no one seems to have heard from him.

My younger son, his brother, is missing him badly and has become really withdrawn and depressed. It’s heartbreaking to see him like this.

We all love our eldest boy and just want him home, but I just don’t know what else I can do. I can’t go searching for him because of the lockdown, and all I can think of doing is posting his picture to everyone I know and ask them to look out for him.

If I could just know he was okay that would help, even if he doesn’t want to come home. I cannot stop crying about this and don’t know what to do for the best. I just wish someone could tell me if they’ve got any idea where he is now.


Fiona says…

“What a terrible situation to be in and how hard it must be for you to deal with.

“I am not clear, from your email, what caused your son to leave in the first place – was he angry or upset, was he forced to leave for some reason? How and why he left may have some bearing on why he doesn’t seem to want to come home.

“It may be that people know where he is but won’t tell you because he doesn’t want you to find him. If he doesn’t want to be found, it is going to be very hard indeed to trace him. Social media might help – you could post that you’re looking for him, with a photo, on Facebook; Instagram etc. and explain you just want to know he’s okay. That way, if people aren’t telling you because they know he doesn’t want to be found, they would encourage him to at least let you know, for his brother’s sake, if nothing else.

“You don’t say whether or not you’ve contacted the police – if you haven’t, I’d definitely encourage you to do so. In your case it’s obviously been more than 24 hours but, for others reading this, just to say you do NOT have to wait 24 hours before calling the police, as some people seem to think. The police may ask you for various things, including a photo, details of friends and other relatives and possibly a DNA sample.

“I’d also encourage you to register with the Missing Persons Unit; and with Look 4 Them. Look 4 Them has links to a number of tracing services that may be able to help. All these organisations hold tracing databases and can help and advise you further. You should remember though that all these organisations will respect your son’s confidentiality and will not tell you, if they do find him, if he doesn’t want you to know.

“One of the links on Look 4 Them is the Salvation Army. They also run a Message Home service where people who do not want to be found can leave a message reassuring friends and family that they are okay.

“Meanwhile, although you are hurting, I’d encourage you to try and support your younger son too. He is grieving for his missing brother and, like anyone who is grieving, he needs to be able to express his feelings and anxiety. If you don’t feel able to give him the support he undoubtedly needs, talk to your GP about getting counselling for him – which is something you might benefit from too.

“Finally, if you, reading this, have walked out on or lost touch with your family, do please contact them either directly or through the Message Home service. It provides enormous reassurance for those who are left behind.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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