ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Graffiti is usually something we see on buildings, but some people are worried some graffiti is sending the wrong message, especially to those suffering from mental illness.
Ryan Merrifield says the words “Kill Yourself” painted in an alley near Winnebago and Jefferson Street hit close to home. Merrifield struggles with schizophrenia and says he's not only worried about the message, but the graffiti’s location which is just a few blocks from Rosecrance.
“I had some friends who actually killed themselves last year. one jumped off a bridge during the winter and one accidentally overdosed on some pills. It just really got to me,” Merrifield said.
He says it's in an area where a lot of patients walk through, so he called the city to get the words removed.
The public works department says they did get a call for graffiti in this alley, however they thought it was on the wall and covered a different piece of graffiti up, not realizing it was actually on the ground.
Public works director Tim Hanson says this is an unusual case because it was written in the street, which could be why crews missed it.
“99% of it is on buildings, cars, signs, bridges. you know alleys are very rare,” said Tim Hanson.
“I don’t want to see graffiti all over the city especially when it comes to saying kill yourself because that’s really a blow to the mental illness community,” Merrifield said.
We did reach out to representatives at Rosecrance who say they haven’t had any complaints about the graffiti message. Crews did cover up the words earlier this afternoon.
Hanson says graffiti is usually taken care of in 2 days but this one took longer because they missed where it was.
While the city’s cleaned up much of the graffiti, it’s still up 21% compared to this time last year.
June and October are usually the highest months for graffiti, most of which is gang related. If you see graffiti you can all the graffiti hotline at 815-965-3243.