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Spotting the signs

Sometimes a friend’s behaviour or actions can make us worried that they want to run away or leave home. We know that in hard times everyone needs a good friend, but being a good friend and supporting someone when things are tricky isn’t always easy. Have a look below at some of the signs that may mean a friend is planning to run away, as well as some ways you may be able to help and support them…

Signs that someone might want to run away

  • Are they packing a bag, or collecting up items that they would want to take away with them?
  • Are they talking about wanting to leave home, or saying that they don’t want to be here anymore?
  • Have they become distant and closed off? Has their attitude towards things like friendships or school changed?
  • Are they unwilling to tell you who they’re hanging out with, or where they’re going?
  • Are they being secretive about their plans, looking up different areas or asking about different places they may be able to go?
  • Do they seem to be waiting for the right opportunity to go?


Signs that someone might want to run away
Supporting someone who might want to run away

When you’re worried about someone it can be difficult to know how to support them but starting a conversation and showing you care can be a great starting point. Sometimes people find it helpful to share what’s going on for them, particularly if you’re a close friend of theirs or someone they can trust. A good way to begin a conversation with your friend is by asking them how they’re feeling and what’s going on for them at the moment.

Sometimes a conversation may just be the beginning – if you find that your friend needs extra help or support, it’s a good idea to see who else they may feel comfortable talking to – this may be a teacher, family member, social worker or another adult they trust. If they’re unsure about speaking to someone else – ask your friend how you may be able to help them share what’s going on. For example – could you go with them to see a teacher? Or help them write down what they’re experiencing?

If your friend is seriously considering running away, let them know that the Runaway Helpline offers free, confidential and anonymous support, 24 hours a day. They can call or text on 116000. We’ll listen and not judge. We want to help everyone stay safe when they’re thinking of leaving or are away from home, and can support people to work out their options and what they’d like to do. Alternatively, you may be able to help them find another specialist service or organisation that can help them with the issues they’re experiencing.

Finally, in very serious circumstances it may be that your friend needs emergency help – if you’re worried that they, or someone else, is in immediate danger you should always call 999.

The main thing to remember is that there are lots of people and organisations that may be able to help your friend think about their options and other ways to overcome problems they’re dealing with. Have a look at our top tips for supporting a friend or someone in need…

Top tips:

        • Do your best to stay calm and supportive, listen carefully and give them space and time to talk.
        • Take your friend seriously and try not to judge them or overreact.
        • If it feels right, let them know that you’re worried about them and would like to help them where you can.
        • Remember that supporting others can be tough – make sure you take good care of yourself too!

If you’re unsure about what to do, how to help, or need someone to speak to yourself, the Runaway Helpline are also here for you to talk to confidentially on 116000. You can call or text for free.

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