Today is World Semicolon Day
Some of you might be confused thinking why is there a day dedicated to a punctuation mark. When in reality it’s not dedicated to a punctuation mark. Well, not really. It’s dedicated to what that punctuation mark means to so many people – including myself.
Project Semicolon was founded in 2013 by Amy Bleuel* as a tribute to her father who died by suicide in 2003. “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,” explains the former Project Semicolon website.
Inspired by Project Semicolon, the nonprofit IGY6; Foundation was established by combat veterans for veterans, active military, first responders, frontline medical workers, and government contractors in need of mental health support.
“IGY6 or “I Got Your Six” is a ubiquitous term in the military to tell a fellow war fighter, “I am watching your back,” states the IGY6; Foundation website. “Hearing that phrase in the middle of a tumultuous situation gives [those in battle] a sense of comfort knowing that they are not in the fight alone.”
A semicolon tattoo alone won’t end your pain or belay the battles that may still lie ahead. But it will help remind you of your victory, or victories. And when you see someone else adorning the familiar symbol there is a sense of solidarity that reminds you you’re not alone.
My Semicolon Tattoo
In 2017 I got a Semicolon tattoo just below my ear. Like most any tattoo, there is meaning in the design – but also the placement. For me, I chose not to conceal my semicolon tattoo because I’m not ashamed of my story. I also chose this placement because it symbolizes I’m willing to listen should someone need to talk.
Like so many people over the last year, this pandemic has done a number on my mental health. Mental illness thrives on isolation and it’s what we have all been trapped in for the last year. The number of suicides from those of all ages, genders, and walks of life has increased to gut-wrenching numbers.
In 2018 I shared my story on World Suicide Prevention Day. There’s more to it now, and maybe one day I’ll be able to share it. Instead, for now, I urge you all to reach out to those in your life that matter to you. To be kinder – to yourself and to others. And remember that you only die once, but you live every day.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, know that someone is always available. No one fights alone.
Note: the new 988 universal suicide prevention hotline is NOT active yet. It is expected to go live in 2022.
Pierce County Crisis Line – Ph: 1 (800) 576-7764
King County Crisis Line – Ph: (206) 461-3222 or 1 (800) 244-5767
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741 in the US
Additional resources and specialized crisis lines: https://auburnexaminer.com/crisis-resources/
*Amy Bleuel died by suicide in 2017