Disappearances are surprisingly common. But while many prove to be temporary disappearances, others can be long-standing, and sadly – never solved.
Any disappearance puts the family of the person who has vanished under incredible strain, and can prove emotionally challenging. This pain can last for years.
Fortunately, most cases of missing people result in the person reappearing. But in some cases, this sadly isn’t the case, and questions forever remain.
So how many people do go missing each year? While finding an exact number is difficult for multiple reasons, certain statistics exist that suggest a huge number of people disappear each year.
As mentioned, it is very difficult to place an exact figure on just how many people go missing each year. So many of these disappearances are left unaccounted for, meaning that only a fraction of disappearances are reported.
Worldwide disappearances are particularly difficult to estimate. One of the best sources is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – which is a UN agency that helps to protect those that are refugees, have been displayed, or for those who are stateless.
They found that in a 20 year period from 1993 to 2013, that over 4.4million people vanished in that time – which doesn’t take into account disappearances that weren’t reported.
Moreover, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) is another organisation that attempts to aid those that have gone missing, whether that be through natural disasters, kidnapping, or any other cause.
The ICMP have a list of various countries, and some of the estimated numbers of people that are missing. For instance, in 2019 alone, 100,000 people were missing from Syria as a result of the ongoing conflict. Venezuela has been another hotbed of disappearances, with Iraq, Mexico and South Sudan other nations that have been affected by multiple disappearances,
Other predictions are somewhat sparse, though The Wall Street Journal reported that approximately 8million children go missing around the world each year.
Sickeningly, among the cases that go under the radar include those involved in human trafficking and other exploitation.
Other factors like the strength of border crossings, immigration rules and even quality of life also plays a role in how many disappearances are actually registered.
It is easier to get more accurate figures by nation. In western nations, where cases are more regularly reported and accounted for, we are able to get a better picture.
In the United States, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) report that over 600,000 people go missing across the 50 states of America.
In cases of under 21’s, it is more common for females to go missing. However, for over 21’s, it is more common for men to disappear.
Looking in more detail at the United States, some states have thousands of people missing, with others not even breaking into triple digits. However, the size of the state plays a part in this.
California, Florida and Texas have the most active missing person cases in the US, with California having over 2,000 people missing. Rhode Island, South Dakota and North Dakota all having the least, with Rhode Island having just 20.
But when adjusted for population, per 100,000 people, Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Vermont have the most disappearances, while Massachusetts and Rhode Island have the fewest.
Canada appears to have around 40,000 people reported missing each year, although figures have fluctuated significantly in recent years.
In the United Kingdom, the Missing People Organisation report that 170,000 people are reported as missing, most of these people do turn up,
Statistics show that between 25,000-30,000 people go missing in Australia each year, with New Zealand, India and Russia among the countries that have also had to grapple with thousands of disappearances.
Any disappearance is a terrible thing – and causes so much confusion and anguish. As seen in the statistics and figures above, there are many problems facing the world, and huge numbers of disappearances are a terrible consequence of this.
But efforts are being put in to try and locate many of these missing people. Fortunately, many turn up fine. But for many, we will never know the truth. However, it is never too late to give up, and hope must remain.