Tattoos for Self-Expression
Tattoos are a wonderful means of self-expression. While people often get them on a whim, sometimes tattoos have a deep, personal meaning. They can be a visual representation of who we are, where we have been, or where we hope to go.
The semicolon tattoo can be both an indicator of mental health issues and solidarity for those struggling with them. Just as a semicolon is used in writing to continue an idea beyond a sentence, the non-profit Project Semicolon was created with the same sense of “carrying on” through the mental health concerns that life throws at us.
Meaning of Semicolon Tattoo Placement
Mental-health advocate Amy Bleuel founded the semicolon movement in 2013. She encouraged people struggling with mental health issues to upload photos to social media of semicolons drawn on their wrists, symbolizing that their lives were not over. Today it is estimated that millions of people have drawn semicolons or had permanent semicolons tattooed on their wrists to indicate their own struggles or support others who battle mental-health issues.
As Project Semicolon’s website explains, “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve decided to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
Why Would You Get a Semicolon Tattoo?
You may want to get a semicolon tattoo to represent the mental health issues that you or a loved one have faced. These tattoos also may serve as memorials for people you have lost to suicide or addiction.
Because the symbol is small and simple, it can be placed pretty much anywhere and is often incorporated into other designs such as hearts or flowers. Even if you have not been affected personally by mental health battles, you may want the tattoo as a conversation starter to bring awareness to the issue of mental health and end the stigma that surrounds it.
Placing a semicolon tattoo somewhere less visible than the wrist may mean that you are making a commitment to your mental health that you aren’t ready to share with others, and that’s okay.
If You Notice Someone Else’s Semicolon Tattoo
If you notice that someone has a semicolon tattoo, you may find that they are willing to talk about why they chose to get the tattoo. If you are open to that conversation, be sure to approach the topic with sensitivity.
Mental Health Resources Available to You
April 16 is World Semicolon Day. To learn more about resources on mental illness and suicide prevention in your area, contact Project Semicolon.
You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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