Melbourne soul singer missing for weeks
The mental health of Melbourne soul singer Eimable Manirakiza began to deteriorate during the city's most recent lockdown.
On the afternoon of June 23 the 24-year-old became so unwell his family called paramedics to their home in Werribee, but as they went outside to flag down the ambulance, he disappeared and has not been seen since.
"Because we don't know what's happened to him... sometimes we despair, and sometimes we feel quite hopeful," his friend Kendra Keller told AAP.
Ms Keller is coordinating the search for her friend of five years, and says the stress on his family has been "heartbreaking".
Eimable was born in Tanzania but grew up in Australia from the age of six.
He is loved and respected in the city's hip hop community, enjoys skating and fitness, and most recently lived in Point Cook in Melbourne's West.
'We urge you to help us. Whoever sees my son, please contact us and bring him back," his mother Benigne Manirakiza said.
The desperation and grief of Mr Manirakiza's family and friends is experienced by thousands of Australians every year - and for some, it never goes away.
Over 100 Australians are reported missing every day, and of those, between two and five per cent become long term missing persons, leaving their loved ones in a state of grief known as "ambiguous loss".
This is defined as an uncertain and complex type of loss that becomes harder to cope with over time.
"It lacks clarification and closure, and for that reason it is rarely openly acknowledged or understood by our community," said Loren O'Keeffe, from the Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN).
The rate of Australians reported missing has increased by more than 25 per cent in the past year as the pandemic has affected the mental health of many.
About 85 per cent of missing persons cases in Australia are related to mental health issues.
Missing persons advocates have called for the federal government to formally recognise the national week held at the start of August to raise awareness of the problem.
MPAN has launched an online petition to ask for it to be included on government calendars.
"Awareness achieved during this week has led to missing people being found and provided resolution for families," Ms O'Keeffe said.
"This week is the biggest opportunity we have to generate community support to help tell the stories of our missing loved ones and the unending nightmare their family members and friends are going through."
Anyone who has seen Eimable Manirakiza is asked to call 1800 717 568.
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
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