Would you be surprised to hear of something existing out there in the world – that actually helps people live longer than they actually wish for?
Welcome to Project Semicolon; where a single punctuation mark has quite the literal effect of a superpower.
What’s a Semicolon?
For those who aren’t particularly interested in writing nor grammar, a semicolon is just another vague punctuation mark. One that’s indeed not widely used, but once we dig deeper, we’ll find something fascinating about it.
The semicolon ( ; ) according to Wikipedia “ is a punctuation mark that separates major sentence elements. A semicolon can be used between two closely related independent clauses, provided they are not already joined by a coordinating conjunction.” In other words, semicolons are a way to complete a sentence rather than ending it.
So, if a semicolon can connect and prolong two short sentences on paper, what effect can this have on real people who yearn in despair and disconnection?
In 2013 a 28-year-old woman named Amy Bleuel started a non-profit mental health awareness project called Project Semicolon, a movement dedicated to presenting hope & love to those who struggle with mental illness, suicide, addiction & self-injury. The mission of Project Semicolon is to help reduce the incidents of suicide in the world through connected community and greater access to information and resources.
Amy Bleuel’s inner depression, suicidal tendencies as well as her father’s suicide were vital keypoints that provoked the initiation of the project.
“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 so we can address it and lower those rates,” Bleuel told USA TODAY Network, when she was asked about what motivated her to launch the project.
Project Semicolon – Today!
Today, Project Semicolon inspired a lot of people to raise the curtains off their inner mental battles, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks, and depression. An overwhelming amount of people, the mentally ill and the mentally-well, welcomed the project, drawing and tattooing semicolons on their bodies to in support of the cause to help raise awareness for suicide prevention.
Still, there’s a very important question that needed to be asked. . .
Does it really make a difference?
Reading about the project and drawing semicolons all over your body won’t end your mental struggles, but it will make your grief a little bit easier to handle. The key to the success of the project remains to be in giving hope to people who’s struggles become intolerable for them to remain alive.
So indeed, while a semicolon won’t replace a doctor’s prescription, it will enhance the treatment via a social cause, allowing more empathy and resources to be widely available to help prevent the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 in the US.
“Last week I got my semicolon tattoo because every day it would be easy for me to choose to go and be with my brother and mother, but I choose not to. I choose to now help break the stigma of mental illness. If I help one person in this world, then that is enough, and I’ve done my job. ” Those words were said by a 28-year-old Australian woman who lost her brother to suicide and depression. Hayleigh got her tattoo to help support those who face mental struggles in the loving memory of her brother.
Furthermore, talking of superpowers; The tattoo has empowered those who wear it to signify solidarity, strength, and unity for members of the community who reach a point of desperation, edging to end their lives.
When we pursue efforts to raise awareness for mental illness within our families and communities, those who deal with it typically feel less alone and desperate – it helps to make them more inclined to ask for help while feeling safe and unjudged.
That’s the help that may well save their life – by preventing a suicidal attempt.
We must realize: Mental illnesses may have no signs, no warnings and can sometimes be very sudden symptoms. One day you can be laughing with a friend and the next day, they could be gone. That’s the case some people have experienced, hence the start of initiatives like Project Semicolon.
Sometimes, we aren’t aware until it’s too late. That’s why we take action prior to any potential outcomes amongst those we love – for many wish they’d done so before it was too late.
The Common Question; How Can I Help?
We can all help in various ways.
Start with reading about mental illnesses. Get yourself some basic knowledge about their real implications and impacts on patients’ lives. Perhaps via learning more about the different disorder, from the mild to the severe while always taking care to watch out for any major mood swings and sudden behaviors from a loved one.
You can help by supporting Project Semicolon via submitting them a piece of art or a drawing. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent tattoo; a couple of words, a poem, anything will do. Show the community that they have your support via whichever way you choose to raise awareness.
Suicide in the Arab Region
Many Arab communities are unfamiliar with mental health yet alone suicide prevention. It may well be a great idea to help introducing the project to your community. Although the prevalence of mental illness and suicide has been increasing recently in Middle Eastern countries, the semicolon project along with other globally anti-suicide projects are unfortunately almost non-existed. We desperately need the awareness and the hope those projects provide.
The Power of a Semicolon
The power of a semicolon isn’t in the semicolon itself, it’s in those who believed in the semicolon in the first place. It’s in people like Amy Bleuel and those like her – the ones who took vulnerability and replaced it with sheer strength and unity. This is the power that made Project Semicolon help and save 5.2 million people since 2013.
Make sure to check Project Semicolon’s website, where you can donate, share your story or read other survivors’ stories, learn more info about mental illnesses. The website provides information on common struggles adolescents face, including how to prevent and treat them.
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