A mixed methods study of the mental health and criminal justice histories of missing persons
Approximately 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia; rates elsewhere are even higher, with a recent UK study suggesting that a person goes missing every 2 min. Missing persons place a significant burden on police services; it is interesting, therefore, that very little research attention has been paid to this topic. This mixed methods study aimed to address this significant gap by analysing the mental health and criminal justice histories of a sample of missing persons and comparing them to rates in the general community. The study found that both mental health and criminal justice histories were significantly overrepresented among missing persons compared to those in the general community, and that young people reported missing commonly displayed suicidal behaviour. Results highlight at risk groups and suggest that criminality is much more commonly implicated in missing person incidents than previously thought.