A mental health charity has condemned graffiti urging people who disagreed with transphobic hate messages to throw themselves off a bridge.
The graffiti, which is being treated as a hate crime, has been removed from the High Level Bridge, which links Gateshead and Newcastle.
There have been ongoing issues with the messages being left on the bridge, as well as bus stops in the area.
David Brown, training and development officer for suicide prevention charity If U Care Share, said: “That doesn’t represent what we are as the North East. We know we’re a community of support, of love, of tolerance and understanding and that’s not a message that we would ever want to see out there.
“We would want to say to anyone affected by that message there is support available. Don’t suffer with those harmful impacts on your own. There are people who want to support you as much as there are others who want to bring you down.”
The County Durham-based charity provides support to people struggling with their mental health and to those affected by suicide.
Mr Brown added: “Our work day to day is all about preventing people from taking their own lives. People are in their most vulnerable position and to actively encourage people in that moment to do that, is quite frankly unacceptable.
“I’d want to encourage that minority of individuals out there who think it is the right message to promote, to give us a call and have a chat with us and I’ll tell you the stories and lived experiences of the people we support.
“That kind of language and encouragement is actually the worst thing you could possibly do for someone in that moment.”
Trans charity Be: Trans Support and Community, said it strongly condemned the ongoing appearance of the graffiti and described it as creating an atmosphere of "fear and hostility" for transgender people.
Director Jay Anderson said: “At Be: Trans Support and Community, we stand firmly against transphobia in all its forms. This graffiti is not just an attack on public property; it's an attack on the rights and dignity of transgender people.
“Vandalism targeting the LGBT community and encouraging suicide is disgraceful and shows the level of hate and criminality those who oppose equality are operating at. Trans people are a vulnerable minority, facing attacks in the media, from government and now when travelling around their homes.”
Watch the report by Katie Cole.
Northumbria Police is investigating the graffiti and is treating it as a hate crime.
Inspector Scott Youngman, of Northumbria Police, said: “Hate crime of any kind is never acceptable and a thorough investigation is underway to find those responsible.
“We are working with our partners to address the issue and ensure any graffiti such as this is quickly removed.
“If you have information on any of the incidents which may assist officers, please contact us immediately."
If U Care Share can be contacted by calling 0191 3875661
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