by Hannah Marie Stait
In 2013 a non-profit project was started, something that once a year would bring people together to start the discussion of mental health by drawing a simple mark of punctuation on our skin. A semicolon. The meaning behind the semicolon however is a lot more important than it seems in that throughout the history of Literature an author would use a semicolon when they could have ended a sentence but instead choose to carry on. In this case the author is you and the sentence is your life, and you are choosing to continue and take hold of your well-being.
This project was started by Amy Bleuel who after the death of her father after his long time struggle with mental health wished to create something powerful that could reach people who are struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts and addiction just as she had struggled with her whole life. The belief of the project is that ‘suicide is preventable and everyone has a role in preventing suicide’ which is so important for people to know and share.
This project grew into something so much bigger as people started to permanently ink this symbol on their skin as a sign of support for the cause. I myself feel so strongly connected to this cause as both a writer and as someone who has struggled with her mental health for so many years and in 2015 I marked my support by getting my first tattoo in aid of the Semicolon Project and after many more it is still my favourite. Depression in particular has been a demon for me and so many of my family and friends and this tattoo wasn’t just for me but also for them, to show that I’m here and I understand the struggle. Not only that but this tattoo has helped me start conversations with complete strangers about the movement and what it stands for.
The project was brought to light again earlier this year through the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why. We saw Clay go through getting his first tattoo in honour of the struggles that surrounded so many of those around him including himself. This was also honoured by producer Selena Gomez along with many of the cast members who grouped together to spread the message of peace and unity through the endless battles that so many people fight daily.
In this day and age that we live in it is so important to be in touch with our minds and be able to share our stories so that others out there, those scared individuals who feel lost can find hope in the lives of others and faith in the tales of courage and strength that mean we can look to continue our stories.
Amy lost her own battle with her mental health in 2017 after a lifetime of struggles, leaving behind a community so strong and a message so powerful that it still continues to reach people everyday. Her story is so important as it means that so many people have been able to talk about their stories and keep her message going in her memory.
As a writer I stand to write things that could help someone in the darkest of times as it is the power of writing that allows me to share how I feel but not everybody has an outlet like that which is why projects like this can show even the most isolated of people ways to reach out and find support. The most important thing to know is that you are not alone and there is always someone ready to listen. Your story doesn’t have to end, keep fighting the good fight, you beautiful human.
Check out https://projectsemicolon.com/ for more information on how to get involved with this amazing project!
Hannah Marie Stait