Why is education and awareness about this issue important?
The public is not aware that the problem of 'missing, missing and off the grid persons' exists and that the consequences are as dire as they are. Families that are in crisis and have never had to navigate a complex "system" before don't know where to turn or how to proceed; law enforcement officials often are not aware of available resources or simply the value of taking a "missing persons" report anyway, even if the case doesn't seem, on the surface, to require one.
The bottom line is that without education and awareness - lives will continue to be lost. We believe that all lives have value and as a society, we should be doing whatever we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens - those who may be lost as a result of his or her having an untreated mental illness and/or addiction are often prey to dangerous situations and harm. We may be tempted to say that folks who fall into this category are 'lost by choice'. But we invite you to consider that there is a distinct difference between a person of sound mind who is 'lost by choice' and one who has no discernment about his or her own safety.
One of the most costly outcomes that can and should be avoided is that of the exploitation and or harm of innocent and vulnerable children who are on the streets. People on the streets who are homeless and/or mentally ill, addicted to drugs, etc. are the most preyed upon members of our society.
As Libba Phillips says, "The oldest law of the jungle applies....a lion will always go for the weakest prey". We have only to look at some of the well known cases of serial killers such as Gary Leon Ridgeway and Robert Pickton to understand this.