Last updated: September 12th 2016
Why a semicolon?
If you’ve ever seen someone with a semicolon tattoo you may have wondered why…
Here’s the story of how Amy Bleuel created a trend with a serious cause, something which might seem random, or perhaps seem like the stamp of some kind of obsessed grammar fanatic; when actually it has an unexpected and positive meaning…
In 2013 Project Semicolon was born from a movement on social media…After the unfortunate loss of her father to suicide, Amy Bleuel wanted to do something unique and symbolic to honor his memory and raise awareness about mental health issues like depression, anxiety and addiction (issues which cause untold damage when left unchecked, often resulting in self-harm and even suicide); so Amy founded Semicolon Project, taking the often misrepresented symbol and transforming it into a badge of awareness and even pride for people struggling with crippling issues with mental health….
What does the semicolon tattoo mean?
Most tattoos carry a deep significance for the individuals who chose to wear them and one image might signify very different things for two different people, whether the image be symbolic or just beautiful to the wearer, they chose an image to wear on themselves for the rest of their lives.
The project encourages sufferers to tattoo or draw the semicolon tattoo on their bodies as a reminder of their inner strength and self-worth. It’s a movement about hope and love, dedicating to inspiring these positive feelings in the minds of the countless people battling the difficult issues of depression, addiction and mental disorder.
So the question is why a semicolon? Well, an author would use this punctuation mark to continue a sentence they would otherwise have ended…the author is you and the sentence is your life.
Originally the idea was just for people to draw the symbol on themselves and take a photo but it was so well received that soon people where tattooing the symbol on their bodies, instead of just drawing it. Today individuals all over the world boast this semicolon tattoo as a reminder of their struggle and victory over depression…as a sign of survival.
Semicolon Project encourages participants to share their stories with each other, to persevere in overcoming troubles on a daily basis through communication and inspiration. This badge serves as a reminder that the story hasn’t ended, that the sentence didn’t end and they are still here. They still have their lives to live and another chance to make things right and live a happier life. There is always another chance and you should never give up, that’s what Semicolon Project is all about…the sentence gets to change half way through and take on new things, to end lighter of heart.
The tattoo also serves as a demand for discussion and recognition about illnesses considered unapproachable, often ignored until it’s too late.
Last year the project joined with tattoo shops, staging an event promoting the tattoo by offering it at a flat rate, in the end over 400 individuals had decided to change their lives forever, all receiving this brand of positivity in one single day. This effort which began as just a local event started to spread all over the globe, with people around the world boasting their tattoos on social media.
But it is not just a matter about conversation, it’s about provision of lifelines and support as well. Tattoos have always been an ice-breaker and this emblem, this semicolon tattoo, is exactly that… It’s an opportunity for survivors who struggle with this every day of their lives to talk about it to people who are not yet acquainted with the issue of mental health disorders. As TSTP points out, “The more we talk about it, the more people get the help they need when they need it.” The semicolon tattoo is a meaningful symbol, it signifies hope and victory.
The Semicolon Tattoo Project’s website states that by marking your wrist with the semicolon tattoo, you have promised yourself that it’s okay to reach out and ask for help, to stand up for yourself and all the people you know who suffer from depression and anxiety…people who may be contemplating self-harm or suicide. You need to do what is necessary to help yourself, your family, your friends and your peers, standing up for yourself and for them against the harsh reality of Mental Health and all of the attached stigma.
This once off social media initiative, since it’s inception, has transformed into a fully fledged awareness movement, campaigning over mental health and the prevention of suicide. Amy Bleuel’s call to action has resulted in a unique form of permanent activism, with people swapping sharpie pens for tattoo needles. Nowadays don’t be surprised if you see the symbol sported on ankle bones, wrists, shoulders and behind ears.
TSTP says that in today’s society, which tries often to hide mental health issues, it is necessary to bring up the subject so that sufferers get the chance to reach out for help.
The Substance abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 2014 Behavioral Health Barometer found that more than 13 million US citizens suffer from sever mental illness, 9.3 million have seriously thought about killing themselves and 17.3 million in 2013 depend on alcohol just to get through the day.
More worrying is the fact that close to 32% of those diagnosed with a serious mental disorder do not go in for treatment in the same year and, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, many don’t seek diagnosis or help because of all the unfortunate stigma surrounding this issue.
As the mark is an indication to pause before you continue to read, participants enlist the wearing of the symbol as a reminder to continue their lives and tell the real story.
Reach the Semicolon Project via Facebook or their website : they are not professionals or a 24 hour hotline and are only there as a resource for talk and support.
For emergency support contact 1800SUICIDE(784 2433) OR 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
If you want to join the movement you can start by sharing this story on social media.