Often, articles about mental health open up with a statistic. Sometimes, those statistics can be harrowing and shock the reader. With today’s statistic, we’ve decided to share hope instead of horror in honor of World Semicolon Day.
Did you know that 700,000 people survive suicide attempts each year in the United States and that the vast majority of those individuals go on to lead long, fulfilling lives?
It takes strength to continue living despite depression or other mental health challenges. On World Semicolon Day, we observe and honor the bravery and fortitude it takes to persist. The semicolon has become a symbol of moving forward and embracing the beauty of an unknown future.
We hope you’ll choose to stick around, too.
This guide will explain the meaning and symbolism of World Semicolon Day and provide resources for anyone who may be struggling. Continue reading to discover the meaning behind this empowering symbol and how you can embrace it as part of your mental health journey.
What Is World Semicolon Day?
In 2023, World Semicolon Day falls on April 16th. This awareness day originated with the story of Amy Bleuel. She was a trauma survivor who struggled with self-injury and suicidal ideation.
Ten years ago, Amy made a Facebook post sharing an image of her new tattoo—a small semicolon representing her story. Many people shared the post, which inspired others to take up the semicolon as a symbol of perseverance. That simple post sparked hope and brought together many diverse individuals seeking community.
A group of those community members began Project Semicolon, an organization whose mission is to provide resources to individuals who may be suicidal. Their goal is to provide free, reliable information to the broader community, including teenagers and young adults in crisis. It’s an entirely grassroots organization with chapters all over the world.
Project Semicolon established World Semicolon Day to spread awareness about mental illness. Each year, the holiday helps connect individuals with the resources they need to pursue mental wellness and persist.
What Does the Semicolon Represent?
When Amy Bleuel posted the picture of her tattoo in 2013, it included the following caption:
“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. PS: Your story is not over.”
In other words, the semicolon symbolizes stopping but choosing to start again. It represents the ambivalence of suicidality and the hope of a happy ending. The semicolon acknowledges the brave and difficult choice to continue your life story, despite challenges such as mental illness, addiction, self-harm, or trauma.
Many others have followed in Amy’s footsteps and chosen to get a semicolon tattoo. It has become a nearly universal symbol of hope in just one short decade. Each day, more individuals discover the inspiring symbolism and share Amy’s story.
Whenever someone notices a semicolon tattoo and asks about it, more individuals become aware of Project Semicolon’s mission. Who knew such a small symbol had the power to save lives?
Resources for Managing Suicidal Thoughts
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in teenagers and young adults, including about 20% of High School students. These young people may or may not have the support of their parents or family members. Often, they feel shame due to the stigma of mental illness.
One of Project Semicolon’s missions is to put supportive, reliable information into the hands of depressed individuals when it’s most critical. Below, we’ll describe some resources that might help you as you begin your journey toward wellness.
It’s common for individuals struggling with mental health to feel like they’d be “bothering” a therapist or “wasting their time.” In reality, many mental health professionals regularly see patients without any history of diagnosed mental illness. Still, it can be comforting for some people to take an assessment test to see if they may meet the criteria for specific diagnoses.
Online assessment tests are quick, free, and anonymous. You’ll answer questions about things you’ve experienced over the past two weeks. The quiz can help you clarify and connect you with the next steps and resources.
Many mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, have symptoms that lead individuals to self-isolate. Having a community of friends who share similar struggles and experiences can be helpful. You’ll have a judgment-free place to vent and share.
Best of all, many of these groups meet online. If you find it challenging to leave home, you can still benefit from peer-to-peer relationships. Sometimes, having someone to check in with each day is enough to hold you accountable for taking medication or completing tasks of daily living.
Recent research suggests a strong link between attending therapy and positive outcomes for suicidal patients. Project Semicolon seeks to connect you with information about treatment options. The website offers a tool to help you find a nearby provider.
Individuals struggling with depression who have not found relief from traditional treatment methods may find success with TMS therapy. This painless, non-invasive procedure uses magnetic pulses to address the underlying physical cause of depression.
Finding Hope on World Semicolon Day
Choosing to persist despite suicidal thoughts is one of the bravest things an individual can do. On World Semicolon Day, we honor those who have continued in the face of depression, addiction, self-injury, and other challenges. We wish you well as you move boldly forward to live out the rest of your incredible story.
Mental health awareness events like World Semicolon Day help us reach communities seeking hope. If you or someone you love is struggling with treatment-resistant major depression, consider trying TMS therapy. Reach out today to learn how this unique treatment option can save lives.