Ingrid López has been looking for her lost son on the streets of Los Angeles for five months. The 24-year-old suffers from schizophrenia and his mother fears something terrible may have happened to him without his medications.
The woman rides the Metro for two hours to look for her son and travels throughout MacArthur Park four times a week trying to find him. Sometimes she recognizes that she does not sleep thinking and wondering “Where is he?”
Carlos Jafet Alfaro was last seen in May of this year. The young man had never left his home before and his mother fears that like others who suffer from schizophrenia, he may have had hallucinations or heard voices that don't exist and left.
Neither the danger of the streets nor the pandemic has stopped López. She and a friend from her church have gone to Skid Row several times to look for Alfaro. “Have you seen my son?,” she says.
“I am afraid that he will hurt himself,” says the anguished mother. “I ask God to take care of him, wherever he is,” said López.
Dr. Jorge Partida, Chief of Psychology at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, says that people with schizophrenia feel as if they were “awake in a dream, and they react to the sights and sounds in the dream and not to reality.”
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Some families in Los Angeles rely on Project Lifesaver, an L.A. Found program that offers bracelets to track the location of people with mental illnesses. People interested in the program can contact L.A. Found at LAFound@wdacs.lacounty.gov or by calling the LA Found Hotline at (833) 569-7651.
"Project Lifesaver bracelets are intended for individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, or other cognitive impairments including some mental illnesses," according to the website.
Carlos Jafet Alfaro does not own a bracelet and Lopez says she will continue looking for him. If anyone has information about Alfaro's whereabouts, they can call at (213) 528-2663.
Some 2,000 people are reported missing annually in Los Angeles County.