Tattoos have exploded in popularity over the past decade, and have become an important and artistic way for people to express themselves. Most people get tattoos to tell a story, or to showcase the pain, triumph, and obstacles they have faced throughout their lives. Every tattoo means something different to the wearer of it, but in the case of the semicolon tattoo, the meaning is universal.
When Amy Bluel tragically lost her father to suicide, she wanted to commemorate him in a special way while also increasing awareness for mental health problems. She founded Project Semicolon, which allowed her to meet both of her goals. According to the website, Project Semicolon aims to “present hope and love to those struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.”
The semicolon is used in writing when two closely related sentences are joined together. The first part of the sentence could be a complete thought on it’s own, but the author decided to keep the sentence going. In other words, the sentence isn’t over. In the context of mental health, the sentence is your life, and the semicolon is the decision to continue living. The semicolon tattoo represents the fact that you have complete power over yourself, and can choose to keep fighting, even if you feel like giving up and putting a period on your life.
The entire movement aims to bring people together, to empower one another and show that we can all overcome the obstacles we face, no matter the size. You can always rewrite your story, start a new chapter, and recreate your life even if you feel you have nowhere to turn. Your story doesn’t have to end if you simply believe in your ability to create new beginnings. For many, the semicolon represents a new beginning of their life. The first half of the sentence has come to a conclusion, and they are now starting a new sentence – a new life – with a different perspective. This can be accomplished by visiting with a mental health professional, exchanging poor habits for better habits, reading self help books, forcing yourself to be with your friends, and more.
According to WHO, more than 350 million people globally suffer from depression,. People with mental illnesses often feel embarrassed to talk about their issues, or feel like they will become a burden to others by voicing their problems. Many of these people suffer in silence, not knowing who to go to or where to turn. Project Semicolon invites people from the world over to share their stories with one another, and wear the semicolon tattoo on their skin to show that they’ve committed to their lives and will keep marching onward, despite the adversities that come their way.
Wearing the semicolon tattoo is also a comforting reminder that you don’t have to face your issues alone, and many people all over the world have been in your shoes. They know the hardships you have faced, because they themselves have had to cross the same bridges. No matter how lonely you feel, someone out there can relate to your struggles.
The movement also aims to increase compassion toward mental health issues. Amy even wrote on her website that her organization “envisions a community that comes together and stands together in support of one another.” She encourages people to start conversations with others about their mental health issues, rather than resorting to self-harming, drugs, alcohol, or other destructive behaviors that do not serve people’s best interests. While talking to others about your mental health can be difficult, it gets easier over time. The more you talk about your mental health, the easier it is to continue talking about it, and the better you begin to feel. Now, don’t go around telling everyone you meet that you have depression. But speaking with people whom you trust is both healthy and relieving. Getting a semicolon tattoo is an easy way to start those difficult conversations.
If you currently suffer from any sort of mental illness, remember that you do not have to face your problems and fears alone. Many people struggle with mental health all over the world, and many choose to see the silver lining in the clouds and make a conscious choice to live a positive, fulfilling life. Project Semicolon aims to support and inspire others to share their stories and get help when they need it, but they are not a 24-hour hotline. In an emergency situation, please call your local authorities, a mental health professional, or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) for immediate help.
We leave you with this inspiring quote from Amy herself:
“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.”
Remember, you are LOVED, cherished, and created by the universe to fulfill a special purpose. No one can offer exactly what you can to the world, so let your light shine. Your life matters, and you have the power to create a wonderful, happy one. You never know who might need your smile, your words, your laughter, and your kindness, so please remember this anytime you feel unwanted or lonely.
By being here on Earth, you have already made a permanent imprint, and the Universe is a better place because YOU exist. Thanks for being here with us on this beautiful, crazy ride we know as life.