Vandals daub offensive words on Samaritan aid posters in Dartford

A woman whose brother killed himself three years ago has been shocked to find offensive words on two Samaritans help signs.

Georgie Charleston, 23, from Dartford, was walking near her house on one of her morning walks when she noticed the green signs had been defaced with spray paint.

The Samaritans offer support to anyone in emotional distress or at risk of suicide and, as part of their work, have put up signs in places people could go to when feeling down. The signs give details of how to contact the charity to speak with someone.

Georgie says someone had scribbled words on some signs in Dartford which could have triggered a fatal response from someone down low.

One said “die” while another used a racial slur.

Georgie said: “The words that were on it were just awful, and to imagine someone seeing that on the thing that’s supposed to help them.”

Georgie’s brother took his own life aged 39 in 2019 and seeing the words she worried what it might do to someone else.

She spoke in the hope that people realize that suicide is a serious subject and that thoughtless acts like these are the reason why there is such a stigma attached to mental health.

The Samaritans offer support to those in emotional distress

The 23-year-old said: “Not everyone is taught that it’s okay to open up about being sad and not treat anyone differently based on how they feel.

“Everyone should just learn to be respectful, but obviously it’s hard to change some people’s mindset.”

As a mental health first aider in her workplace, Georgie knows the importance of starting open discussions about people’s mental well-being.

She had her own battle with her mental health and suffered from anxiety and depression. She was diagnosed with PTSD when she was 18.

Georgie said: “I’ve always had positive discussions about mental health and I’ve never been afraid to talk about it.

“I think it was the same with my brother too, because he was never shy about talking about things.”

Georgie talks about how, especially among men, there needs to be more discussion about how good it is to talk about mental health and get rid of the stereotype that it’s not “manly” to show your emotions.

She said: “I know there’s a lot of work to do, but there’s so much more to do.”

Georgie posted about the vandalism on Facebook and Dartford Council Leader Jeremy Kite (Con) saw his post.

He said of the graffiti: “It’s horrible and despicable for someone to vandalize something that can help people.

“It’s the lowest of lows and I can only hope whoever made it feels some kind of remorse.”

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