I’ve been a writer and editor for over 15 years now. Through the years, I’ve learned from some crackerjack editors, and serious grammar queens, so I think I have a pretty good handle on structure, punctuation and such. However, there is one little mark that remains troublesome: the semicolon. The cute lil’ guy can mean so many things! It can mean “but,” it can indicate a list, it can almost replace “for example.” One thing all its meanings seem to hold in common, though, is a continuation.
That must have been what Amy Bleuel thought, too, when she chose this symbol as the unifying image when she created a campaign, Project Semicolon, for bringing awareness to mental health issues. As an open display of a personal connection with mental health issues—whether with themselves or loved ones—Bleuel asks people to draw or tattoo semicolons on their bodies. Sadly, she too has had mental illness touch her life: her father committed suicide in 2003 and she has her own struggle with mental health issues. She told USA Today:
“I wanted to tell my story to inspire others to tell their story. I wanted to start a conversation that can’t be stopped, a conversation about mental illness and suicide…It’s impacted people who struggle with self-harm, addiction and suicide, as well as people who have lost people from suicide and addiction. It’s attracted everyone.”
Project Semicolon opens a much-needed dialogue for a community that needs support and affirmation, a group that has survived, healed and even those that still struggle. Creating this platform works to help them to remember that they aren’t alone.
“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.”
To read more about Amy Bleuel’s amazing work and to see pictures of semicolon body art from across the globe, visit Project Semicolon’s site here.