The UK’s Times Online published a unique news story in December 2007 about the reasons and ways people ( mostly men ) use to “disappear” from their current lives and start a “new” life with a different identity.
According to the article, there are numerous lifestyle and psychological reasons that go into a person’s decision to disappear, including: relationship problems, financial crises and depression.
Statistics show that two thirds of people who disappear, do so deliberately and do not want to be located.
Lost from View, a study done by York University and Missing People, found that of all missing people who are found alive, only 20 percent end up returning home for good and 40 percent refuse to renew contact with past family and friends at all. Some people ( mostly men ) take extreme measures like staging a “pseudocide” – faking your death to start a new life.
Some experts believe that as privacy becomes less and less and more relationships fall apart and financial worries mount, the basic human impulse to escape is increasing.
Frank Ahearn, a US privacy consultant who helps people disappear to start a new life, says his business has increased tenfold in the past five years. Ahearn credits the growing government intrusion into the private lives of citizens as one of the reasons for the upswing in requests for his personal privacy consulting services.
Ahearn also says that technology like the internet and cell phones have made vanishing in a modern world more possible. It is simple to run a virtual business from online without the need for a physical location. The idea of a virtual life is becoming increasingly attractive to potential runaways.
Ahearn’s list of clients include a corporate whistle-blower and a lawyer who was being stalked by a former client. He advises people to start planning their disappearance six months in advance. He advises people not to use their home phone, work or cellphone as well as not use their calling cards. In addition, do not use your credit cards to purchase anything in the location you are going to escape to.
According to psychologist Dorothy Rowe – it is an common human fantasy to disappear and start life all over in a new location. Each time there is a disaster such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the Asian tsunami some people will use the opportunity to shed their previous lives by playing dead and moving on.
Rowe says that men are twice as likely to disappear as women, often due to a loss of face at work or a decrease in social or economic standing.