A Silver Alert is the name for a system to alert the public for a missing person who is particularly vulnerable.
Originally named for elderly, silver-haired missing people with various forms of dementia, the Silver Alert has been expanded to include other categories of vulnerable missing people. These include
- Alzheimer’s disease, which can affect people as young as 40 years old
- Developmental disability
- Cognitive disabilities such as brain injuries
- Autism and Down Syndrome
People with these conditions can experience memory and other cognitive deficits. They may wander away from home, and forget how to get back. They can believe that they are their younger selves, heading for a job they had in the past, or a childhood home. They may not know they are lost, and may not ask for help.
People like this can vanish in an urban area and be very difficult to locate. They can perish, metres away from assistance. But because nobody knows they are lost, and they can’t ask for help, there is nobody to help them.
The Citizen’s Silver Alert
The goal of the BC Silver Alert is to provide a valuable public alerting system so that specific, targeted alerts can assist first responders to locate missing people who meet the criteria for urgency and vulnerability.
There is no such system currently in place in British Columbia.