You might have noticed a recent trend in tattoos and wondered what it means.
The semicolon tattoo represents solidarity with those struggling with mental health issues, or a reminder to those who are winning their own personal struggles every day, when they choose not to give in.
The trend was started by Project Semicolon, but it is so much more than a trend. They explain its significance as follows:
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
Project Semicolon is dedicated to providing hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Their mission is to inspire those who self-harm, or are considering suicide, to choose a better alternative—for themselves and for their loved ones.
Although the campaign has gained considerable exposure in the media in recent weeks, it has been ongoing for two years now. Initially it was intended for the semicolon to be a temporary marker on the skin to raise awareness, but the campaign had such a strong response that people are embracing permanent tattoos, as well as temporary ones.
It all began in April 2013 when founder, Amy Bleuel, posted a request on Twitter encouraging others to draw semicolons on their wrists on April 16th to break their silence about their struggles with mental illness. Bleuel, whose father died by suicide in 2003, has had her own struggles with mental illness, self-harm and suicide attempts. So she lives with a keen awareness of the importance of choosing to stick with life.
The project doesn’t provide a helpline service—although they do provide details of where people can seek such urgent care. They focus on education and inspiring those who are suffering to choose recovery.
In this light, the semicolon tattoo has had a powerful effect:
It is a reminder of personal inner strength to those who wear it.
It is a visual aid to bring the wearer back to the power of choice.
It is a conversation starter, which leads to…
Increased awareness and understanding around mental health issues.
It is breaking the taboo around mental health discussions.
Using the hashtag #ProjectSemicolon, the project has also become a means of connecting with others living with depression, suicidal thoughts and self-harm—enabling people to support and encourage each other, and promote the real possibility of recovery.
This project is an inspiring example of the effect each of us can have on the world. Seemingly simple acts can have far-reaching ripples. Project Semicolon has an ambitious vision and they are inspiring others to remember there is another way, other than self-harm and suicide.