Mental Illness And The Missing: The Connection
Mental illness is a much bigger problem than many people realize. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year. This equates to approximately 61.5 million Americans.
Here’s how the other numbers break down:
- 2.4 million people live with Schizophrenia
- 14.8 million people live with major depression
- 42 million people live with anxiety disorders
- 6.1 million people live with bipolar disorder
- 9.2 million people live with co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders
One Women’s Personal Encounter with Mental Illness
Those statistics hit very close to home for Diana Kim, a Hawaii-based photographer who documented her homeless dad’s life through a series of special photos several years ago.
Growing up, her own father’s mental health dramatically declined. Diagnosed with Schizophrenia, overtime he refused to bathe, eat, or take his medication. He would also see things that did not really exist.
At 5-years-old, her dad left her and her mom. He walked away from his family and opted for a=a nomadic life of living on the streets.
Years later, fate would reunite Kim with her father once again. While shooting a photography project on the streets of Honolulu in 2012, Kim surprisingly located her father among the homeless she was documenting.
In an interview with NBC news, Kim stated, “Some days I would literally just stand there and stare downwards because I couldn’t get myself to see him in the condition he was in. My own flesh and blood, but still such a stranger to me…Many of the photographs were shot haphazardly. The photographer in me knew that these images needed to be created, that I needed to have them as a record for myself — a reminder that this was real even after I walked away.”
As she documented her father’s life as a homeless man, their relationship began to blossom. He eventually got the help he needed in order to begin leading a normal life.
Unfortunately, for many people with mental illnesses — it often goes unnoticed by loved ones. For some people, it can be triggered by a job loss, death of a family member, a bad relationship, imbalance in the brain, etc.
Mental Illness and the Missing: The Connection
Has someone close to you with a mental illness gone missing? If so, you are not alone.
On average, 90,000 people are missing in the USA at any given time, according to Todd Matthews from the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, a national database for missing people.
It’s thought that many have a mental illness. Mental illness can affect someone’s ability to cope with life, which may lead them to decide to go away without telling anyone.
They may vanish to a life of homelessness, as was the case of Kim’s father–or something far, far worse.
Don’t let this happen to you or your loved one.
Know the Warning Signs
Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else.” In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread. In adults, young adults and adolescents–it’s important to know the signs:
Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
Feelings of extreme highs and lows
Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
Strong feelings of anger
Strange thoughts (delusions)
Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
Numerous unexplained physical ailments
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.
Lauth Investigations and Thomas Lauth are experts in helping families locate missing loved ones.
While each missing persons case is different and results will vary, Lauth has been helping families for more than 20 years and boasts nearly an 85% success rate.
If you or someone you know need assistance, call them today at 1.800.889.FIND or 317.951.1100.