Statistics show that suicide rates continue to rise, making it more important now than ever to eliminate the stigma associated with this often-avoided topic. Project Semicolon is working to reduce that stigma and make a significant impact on suicide prevention.
What Is Project Semicolon?
Project Semicolon is a non-profit with a mission to inspire hope and create community among those who struggle with mental illness, addiction and suicide. While the organization began as one woman’s passion project, it now makes a global impact. To date, the project has helped more than 5.2 million people.
History & Founder
A leader in the suicide prevention movement, Amy Bleuel founded Project Semicolon in 2013 to honor her father who died by suicide. From the age of 6, Bleuel experienced a great deal of trauma and even spent years of her childhood in state custody. By 18, she had already suffered a lifetime of physical and emotional abuse, depression and suicidal tendencies of her own. Her father’s passing triggered another dark chapter in her story, and Bleuel became addicted to alcohol and drugs. Through her continued struggles, she found hope in marrying the love of her life and became inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. That’s when Project Semicolon was born. Bleuel set out to create awareness and provide support for those who battle mental health challenges, substance addiction and suicide.
According to CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D., “Suicide is a leading cause of death for Americans.” The CDC also reports that suicide rates have increased by 30% since 1999. Even more startling is research from Western Michigan University, which concluded that one person attempts suicide every 31 seconds.
These suicide statistics confirm a hard reality. Death by suicide is becoming more common, yet the stigmas surrounding mental illness, addiction and suicide continue to keep people from seeking help.
Meaning of a Semicolon Tattoo
Amy Bleuel chose the semicolon punctuation mark to symbolize the mission of her project. In writing, a semicolon indicates the sentence isn’t over — there is more to come. Bleuel saw an opportunity to use the symbol as an impactful metaphor for the life that lies ahead for those considering suicide. People around the world have embraced the symbol, getting semicolon tattoos to show their support. The meaning behind the semicolon tattoo serves as a source of comfort for many.
Death of Amy Bleuel
In March 2017 at the age of 31, Amy Bleuel died by suicide. Though Bleuel’s battle ended in tragedy, her story and legacy have saved thousands of lives in the United States and around the world. Today, the Semicolon Project continues to carry out her vision by encouraging an open dialogue about suicide prevention, mental health and substance abuse.
Suicide Prevention Resources
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a confidential helpline that provides emergency counseling to individuals in distress and offers support to friends and loved ones. Call 1-800-273-8255 to speak to a counselor in one of their local crisis centers. You can also reach out to the Crisis Text line by texting “START” to 741-741.
You don’t have to deal with mental illness, addiction or suicidal ideation alone. If you or someone you know is struggling, contact The Recovery Village for information about our programs for co-occurring addiction and mental health issues, and learn more about how we can help you find a path to a happy, healthy future.