Suicide is a difficult topic, and a lot of times is one that we try to avoid. In the United States, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, and statistics show us that somebody dies by suicide approximately every 12 minutes. Because of the severity of the issue, countless organizations are working to raise awareness and reduce stigma so that it is okay for people to talk about these kinds of issues. Suicide is one of the most preventable forms of death. By bringing these issues out into the open we can potentially save countless lives. One organization that is working to reduce stigma is Project Semicolon.
Project Semicolon was founded 2013 Amy Bleuel, in honor of her father who died by suicide when she was 18. Amy also struggled with suicidality and depression throughout her life. She chose a semicolon because it is used when the author could have ended the sentence but chose not to. It is a message to remind people to keep going because their story is not over yet, there is still more to be written. The idea is for people to get a semicolon tattooed somewhere visible (most commonly the wrist, ankle, or behind their ear). For those who are not comfortable getting a tattoo, they suggest you draw one on with a marker or eyeliner. The tattoo is supposed to serve a signal to those who are struggling. It means “I’ve been there, or I love someone who has been there; you’re not alone.” For those who do not know what the semicolon tattoo means, it is meant to start a dialogue. When people ask what the tattoo means, it opens the door to educate them about the importance of mental health. Discussing mental health issues is one of the best ways to reduce the stigma and keep those who are struggling from feeling alone.
Unfortunately, in 2017 Amy Bleuel lost her battle to depression and died by suicide, but the organization she founded lives on, bringing hope and support to thousands who struggle with depression, suicide, self-harm, addiction, and trauma. They offer encouragement and resources and invite people to share their stories. For more information about this organization and the work they do visit Project Semicolon’s website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please do not hesitate to call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Please reach out if you need help, all calls are confidential, and professionals are available 24/7. Your story isn’t over yet.
This blog was written by our intern, Hannah Shaffett