A global movement is revolutionizing how we talk about mental health — with punctuation.
Project Semicolon, which offers hope to those struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury, borrows its philosophy from the punctuation mark in its name.
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to,” the project’s website reads. “The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
The idea behind Project Semicolon is simple: Draw or tattoo a semicolon on your body to raise awareness about mental health and the power of choosing to continue.
The movement’s founder, Amy Bleuel, knows that choice well. She experienced mental illness during her youth, leading to multiple suicide attempts and instances of self-harm. Her father also struggled with depression, taking his own life in 2003.
“That was definitely a big struggle for me,” she told Mashable. “The purpose of the project and me founding it [was that] I wanted to tell my dad’s story. I wanted to honor him.”
— Project Semicolon® (@ProjSemicolon) April 16, 2015
Though some media outlets have reported the project started when Bleuel got a semicolon tattoo to honor her late father, she clarified to Mashable that it really began in April 2013, about a month before her own tattoo. She posted a flyer to social media, encouraging people to draw semicolons on their wrists on April 16, showing their struggles — or their loved ones’ struggles — with mental illness.
Bleuel’s message was widely spread; she estimates the first Semicolon Day had more than 500,000 participants. The movement’s following, she said, has remained strong ever since. People show support throughout the year, and the project has especially gained traction in recent weeks.