Semicolon Tattoos Have Become a Powerful Symbol For the Mental Health Community

July 8th 2015

It's very difficult to talk about mental health in the U.S., so a new campaign called Project Semicolon has set out to present "hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury." The movement encourages people to tattoo or draw a semicolon on their bodies in support of the message.

What's the significance of the semicolon? “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to,” the project site reads. “The sentence is your life and the author is you.”

Amy Bleuel started Project Semicolon two years ago after her father committed suicide.

“We heard from people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well," she told BuzzFeed in a recent interview. "I believe that the semicolon tattoo is huge inspiration to others as they know they are not alone. From the start the project was a huge success. It is credited to a good friend of mine who wishes to not be named. He is a genius when it comes to networking. In the recent weeks the feeling of: ‘Wow we are on to something’ really started to hit me. To have so many countries involved and supporting is amazing. It is a humbling experience."

One Instagram user even weaved the upcoming kids movie "Minions" into the Project Semicolon conversation:

Blogger Heather Parrie wrote a recent blog post about getting the semicolon tattoo as a victim of depression and anxiety, which led her to leave her job.

"I got this tattoo as a promise to myself that I would never willingly end my sentence," she wrote. "I got it as a reminder to take this summer as a pause, and then to keep going strong next year. I also got this this tattoo to open up conversations between myself and other humans about mental illness, because as difficult as mental illness is, what’s more difficult is feeling stigmatized. Or like you failed. Or like people are feeling sorry for you. There’s no question that the stigma surrounding mental illness inhibits struggling humans from finding the help that they need, and I find this absolutely heartbreaking because I know I am not alone when I say that depression destroyed my GPA, my relationships with my friends, my involvement on campus, and much, much more."

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