Semicolon Tattoo: One Small Character, One Big Purpose

We often say that the smallest change can make a huge difference. And that’s very true in the case of the semicolon tattoo. These tattoos started appearing a few years ago, becoming very popular in recent years with good reason. This tattoo has a serious meaning behind it, and it’s not just the mark of a really committed grammar nerd.

What is the semicolon tattoo?

The tattoo (or the mark, to be precise) represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention. The tattoo is the symbol of Project Semicolon. The project, born as a social movement in 2013, is a movement “dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.” The Project exists to encourage, inspire, and love people.

The question many ask is why the semicolon was chosen as the symbol. Well, in grammar and literature, a semicolon is used “when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence but chose not to.” Metaphorically, the author is You, and the sentence is Your life.

Project Semicolon started as a special day, one on which people were encouraged to draw the symbol on their body and take a picture with it. The social movement grew into something greater. Nowadays, people are putting the symbol on their body as a reminder of their survival, victory, and struggle.

According to statistics, 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year. That’s approximately 44 million, or 18.5% of the population of the United States. Even worse, 1 in 5 people (aged 13 to 18) experiences severe mental disorder at some point in their life.

Tattoo as a conversation starter

People from Project Semicolon believe the tattoo is the best conversation starter on the topic, and one of the best ways to raise awareness for the problem. People ask about the tattoo, and you get to tell them the meaning. When you see someone with an interesting tattoo, it’s fair game to ask them about it.

The project organizes an event every year where people can get a tattoo for a flat rate. What began as a local event has spread all over the world. But getting people to get a tattoo is just part of the process—they also hold fundraisers for organizations helping people with mental disorders.

How the project started

Grammar pedants have long known that punctuation is everything. And that was the idea that drove Amy Bleuel to Project Semicolon. She started the project in April 2013 as a way to honor her father. He took his own life, and she wanted to use that story to voice her own fight with mental illness.

Since then, the project has transformed from a social media initiative to a full-fledged movement and awareness campaign for mental health and suicide prevention.

She believed that in a “society that often tries to hide mental health issues, it’s their job to push back and show that the more we talk about the problem, the more people will get help.”

She also believed that people who consider suicide do not want to die. They just try to “escape the unbearable mental pain and anguish.” So, in her words, the best way to help is to ask people how they feel, listen to them, and stay with them.

Several semicolon tattoo ideas

In most cases, a simple semicolon tattoo will do the trick and get the job done. You don’t need much of a design. The message is already beautiful. However, there are people who want to take things to the next level. There are several ideas how you can get a semicolon tattoo and make it look even more beautiful.

  • A semicolon is something you get for continuing when you wanted to end. And in that spirit, butterflies are a great way to get a semicolon tattoo. You can connect the semicolon somewhere to the butterfly, the symbol of a new beginning. We all deserve a second chance.
  • Some people decide to put a message next to their semicolon. One of the most common messages is “my story isn’t over.” It’s just a reminder to stay strong when it feels like everything is going south.
  • If you want color, you can add a splash of color to the design. Most often, people chose the colors of the rainbow.
  • A fun twist to the semicolon tattoo is to make it look like a cat. After all, the tattoo does look like a cat.
  • One way to share love is to place a semicolon heart near your heart.
  • Another popular symbol that goes well with the semicolon is the compass. The compass is a beacon of hope for sailors, and you can place the semicolon in the center of the compass.

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