The Importance of the Semicolon Tattoo
The art of tattooing has come a long way in the last few decades. In today’s world, tattoos mean so much more than simply being the product of the forgotten hours of a British piss up in Magaluf. (Not that it still doesn’t happen; just watch Tattoo Fixers on E4.)
The Semicolon tattoo has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. It may seem like a passing ‘hipster’ fashion statement, or the mark of a super committed grammar nerd. However, it reality this tiny tat has a huge meaning.
Non-profit mental health organisation Project Semicolon was founded by the wonderful Amy Bleuel in 2013. It was created as a tribute to her father who had committed suicide 10 years earlier. Sadly, Amy also died to suicide on March 24th 2017, aged 31. However, her story, her amazing work and advocacy lives on.
“Project Semicolon is an organisation dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives.” – projectsemicolon.com
The mission of the movement is to “present hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.”
The project originally encouraged people to draw semicolons on themselves as a message of hope and a sign that their story is not over. Since then, thousands of people from all over the world have made it a permanent fixture by inking the punctuation mark on their bodies to convey the mental health issues they or loved ones are trying to/have overcome.
Why a semicolon?
The punctuation mark is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.
In 2015, there were 6188 registered suicides in the UK, and it remains the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. This is shocking. So why doesn’t suicide have the global recognition it needs to banish all misconception and shame attached to it? We can openly talk about an ingrown toenail with our hairdresser or we can candidly discuss sexually transmitted diseases on reality TV. However, when it comes to our mental health, we fall silent.
Tattoos are excellent conversation starters, with people always wanting to know the reason behind your body art. I decided I wanted the Serotonin molecule as a tattoo – a neurotransmitter in the brain that is widely believed to contribute toward happiness and mental wellbeing. I was also desperate for a semicolon tattoo as well so I incorporated them together. There has been many a time where I have been questioned about the semicolon on my arm and I have been able to use the opportunity to share its meaning and importance. In an age where we tweet more than we talk, we take for granted the power of a conversation to spread mental health awareness.
I love that something so small can have such an inspiring and powerful impact on so many lives. When I’m struggling, I like to look at my tattoo as a reminder that I will be okay, I am not alone and it is okay to ask for help.
I will continue to write my story.