The symbolism of the semicolon

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By Shayden Riggs | Youth Rise

When it comes to mental health, the semicolon is used as a way to stop the stigma of mental illness. 

The semicolon in grammar represents a continuation of a sentence that could have ended. This is the same with mental health; the sentence is a metaphor for life. The semicolon is meant to represent people who have struggled with mental health that could have ended their story but didn’t; they chose to continue it. 

According to Project Semicolon, the way the semicolon started being a powerful symbol for mental health was when Amy Bleuel came up with the idea of posting pictures on April 16, 2013, of a semicolon drawn on the wrist to signify the continuation of the story of life.

Since then, many people have seen the semicolon as a way to represent mental health and some have even gotten tattoos of the symbol. This action helps people know that they are not facing mental illness alone. A semicolon tattoo is a way to honor a loved one who has struggled with mental illness or the person’s own struggle with mental illness. 

Project Semicolon, which was founded by Bleuel, states, “Project Semicolon is dedicated to increasing awareness, saving lives and reducing the stigma of suicide. Our goal is to present hope to those experiencing the symptoms of mental illness and those touched by the tragedy suicide.” 

Project Semicolon provides information on different types of mental illness and resources for those who need help. 

The semicolon is meant to represent a time someone or someone’s loved one felt like they couldn’t keep going but chose to continue on despite the struggles they were facing. The symbol of the semicolon can help be a reminder to keep going in a person’s darkest moments. The semicolon is meant to unite people in the struggle of mental health; it is a symbol that no one has to struggle alone. 

Bleuel said, “People want to know they’re not suffering in silence, you feel alone like no one cares, to know someone is there, that is what these people go forth with, they take this energy to better themselves. I think it’s just opening the minds of society. I would hope through my stories and platforms that they would see these are everyday people, just like you, and they’re attempting to make their lives better, but here is what they struggle with.” 

So, when you see a semicolon, just know the sentence doesn’t end there. Your story doesn’t have to end here either; keep your sentence going.