Have you ever wondered why your social media feed and the internet is flooded with people getting semicolon tattoos? What does the semicolon tattoo mean? It is a common punctuation used in the English language, so why would people be getting that and not an exclamation mark, or a question mark or any other quaint little symbol?
The thing is, the semicolon tattoo has a profound significance, and the trend of getting a semicolon tattoo started with Project Semicolon. If you are wondering what the semicolon tattoo means and why people every, all over the world are getting it, then you have come to the right place, because today, we are talking about mental health.
About Project Semicolon
According to a study conducted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, every 12.9 minutes a person in America dies from suicide. More than 40,000 people in America alone take their lives every year by killing themselves, which is a cause of great concern. The World Health Organization has also confirmed that right now, every year, almost a million people die of suicide all over the world, and the rate of people who take their own lives is only likely to increase and double by 2030.
These are alarming statistics which aren’t just numbers. These are real people, with real lives which are ending because something is compelling them to believe that it is the end of the road and there is nothing better for them tomorrow.
According to the AFSP, of all the people who die from suicide, 50% suffer from depression. If these figures aren’t enough to alarm you and make you sit up and take notice, then it is also important to know that this percentage doesn’t include alcoholics who suffer from depression and other conditional factors.
The website of Project Semicolon read:
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.
This is the message that the founder of the movement, Amy Bleuel, had tried to propagate when she started this global cultural movement to prevent suicides all over the world. In a world where conversations about mental health were considered taboo, she chose to create a culture where it became imperative to talk about your mental health and your depression, if it helped restrict your suicidality. Unfortunately, she passed away in March, 2017, after taking her own life.
Semicolon and mental health
The founder chose to use the semicolon tattoo as the symbol of the movement, and since it started in 2013, more and more people have drawn strength from it. It is estimated that more than 1 million people all over the world have gotten this tattoo, which puts things into perspective when you think about it this way- more than a million people in the world have suffered from depression in the last year, and only a very, very, very small fraction of them have been able to talk about it, face it, deal with it and come out from it, and get a mark of their struggle tattooed on their body.
There thousands and thousands of people in your city alone, suffering from depression, struggling with mental health and fighting to stay alive every single day.
What Project Semicolon managed to do was start a conversation for those people who never thought they could speak about it out loud. The project not only helped them come out of their shell, but because of its huge cultural impact, they also saw that they weren’t alone in their struggle.
What is ironic is, the founder of the movement, Amy Bleugel herself succumbed to suicide, which only goes to show the extent of the effects of suicide. Depression doesn’t allow the victim to think that anyone needs them, no matter how much they are reassured otherwise, which is why you see so many famous people dying prematurely because they took their own lives.
Suggested read: Message Of Pain: Exploring Mental Illnesses Through Art
For all of you who sit in their comfortable homes and house their comfortable thoughts and criticize those who seem to have it all, yet suffer from depression or take their own lives when they apparently have no reason to, take time out to have a conversation with them now that we’ve answered the oft asked question: what does the semicolon tattoo mean
Next time you see someone with a semicolon tattoo (because the scary part is you are most likely to come across someone with it), understand first that there is a long, difficult and trying story behind it, and not just another tattoo on another body. Know that they are fighters and have survived some of the most difficult trials that life have had to offer, fought off the demons inside their head, and gotten that tattoo to commemorate that achievement.
You don’t have to have a semicolon tattoo to be a part of this movement. Neither do you have to be a victim of depression. All you have to do is listen.
Featured image source: Instagram