The Semicolon Tattoo

What is a semicolon tattoo?

Yes, these tattoos are SMALL, but the meaning of semicolon tattoos are huge…

In writing, the semicolon separates two thoughts but indicates they share something in common. Everyday individuals that don’t write often might never use the semicolon. It’s becoming one of the most popular tattoos in the country right now, though. Tattoo artists continue to draw small semicolons onto thousands of eager customers’ bodies.

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But why? What does a semicolon tattoo mean?

Amy Bleuel fought against mental illness and depression throughout her life.

In fact, she lost her father to suicide some time ago.

That spurred Bleuel to create Project Semicolon in 2013. The project started as a way of honoring her father, and now it symbolizes hope for a countless number of people.

Project Semicolon’s website makes a simple statement on this punctuation mark.

The semicolon tattoo meaningIt states that the optional semicolon continues a sentence rather than ending one like an abrupt period.

Therefore, each human being is the author that chooses to keep the sentence (life) going on. Many individuals struggling with depression, self-harm and other ailments can embrace the semicolon.

They can relate to the sentence-ending (life-ending) period, too.

A Message From Project Semicolon

Based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Project Semicolon attempts to tell each person that the story isn’t over.

It’s a faith-based nonprofit that encourages each person to keep battling depression, self-harm and other issues.

semicolon tattoo meaning self harm

The semicolon originally represented its founder’s father. Since then, it has grown to represent millions of people that want to share their stories and continue them until the proper ending is written.

Project Semicolon is all about inspiration.

Tattooing businesses across the country have reported an increase in semicolon tattoo requests. Such awareness has helped Project Semicolon increase the visibility of its cause and plight.

Jazymn Case works at the popular 717 Tattoo and Body Piercing business. It’s based in Harrisburg, and she’s performed over 10 semicolon tattoo designs recently. She notes that people do it for themselves and others that they know.

Similarly, J.D. Brosius from Never Say Die Tattoo and Body Piercing has performed almost 20 such tattoos. That parlor is located in Harrisburg as well. A similar story is playing out for tattoo artists around the United States.

The owner of Red Beard Ink, Robert Treat, notes that six semicolon tattoos have been inked in the past week. In an interview, he mentioned a couple that tattooed the semicolon and the date of their first meeting on themselves.

Treat notes that he never asks what the story is behind the tattoo, but he can often make inferences nonetheless.

Mental Illness: A Growing Problem In America

As mental illness rates continue to rise, the issue remains a mostly invisible one.

semicolon depression

Everyone seems to talk about all other issues, except for mental health. An American takes his or her own life every 13 minutes nowadays. In a single year, that tally reaches a cumulative 40,000 Americans. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that most suicide victims suffered from diagnosable disorders.

Suicide is even the 10th most common cause of death in the country.

Even though such a preventable cause of death should be fought against, we remain silent on the problem. Issues like STDs and even homicide are commonplace on television. For whatever reason, mental health topics seem to bring out the pitchforks for the whistleblower on such problems.

An invisible problem can only worsen, and that’s going to be the case for depression, self-harm, suicide, and other mental health topics.

A Problem That Receives Lackluster Support and Care

Unfortunately, men and women battle depression for their entire lives.

It never disappears completely because a resurgence can occur without warning. This can happen every couple days or every few years. One day a person feels incredible, and then they feel terrible the next day.

amy bleuel

Few individuals that suffer from mental health problems seek medical attention. In the beginning, they don’t want others to see them struggle. An admission of a problem makes people feel weak.

After dealing with the issue long enough, help simply seems impossible.

Heather Parrie received a semicolon tattoo to support Project Semicolon. She wasn’t supporting a friend or family member, though. To the contrary, she did it for herself after publicly revealing a diagnosis for depression and anxiety. Parrie is a blogger that resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

She blogged about the experience on her website. What does a semicolon tattoo cost? For $60, she let a stranger with a Jesus tattoo adorning his head ink a semicolon onto her wrist. Parrie plans to keep the mark there until her last breath.

The semicolon tattoo is a promise to herself.

To Parrie, that promise is that she’ll never put the period after her sentence by choice.

Parrie mentions that the stigma associated with mental illness is still strong. Her goal is to bring up a major conversation about mental health in the country.

After feeling stigmatized, she now wants people to realize something about mental health problems.

Individuals don’t have to feel like failures or feel like they’re receiving pity.

She wants people to see the semicolon on her wrist and know that they’ll be OK at some point in the future. When people see the tattoo on others, they can realize that they’re sick but not alone or crazy. The story can always go on as the author keeps on writing.

Just added: My review of the CES Ultra >>.

Write to me about anything related to a semicolon tattoo, mental health or the project semicolon, you can find me here, Kattalin.

25 Responses to The Semicolon Tattoo

  1. Marianita May 21, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

    Thank you!!!

  2. Karen June 3, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Myself, a daughter and 2 Granddaugters will all be getting the same tattoo; will be encouraging others in our family to do the same.

  3. Heahter June 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    I got one in honor of my uncle. It’s quite the topic of discussion. 😉

  4. Chris June 30, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

    Do I want just the black wrist piece in a normal font. Or do I enlarge it and set my semicolon in colors on my heart or my shoulder? I want it seen and the meaning known.

  5. Andrea Joy Phoenix August 13, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    I have struggled with BPD, major depression, episodes of self-mutilation and suicidal ideations for years; along the way, there have been at least a handful of failed attempts at suicide. Ten days ago, I had a larger-than-usual and slightly-altered semicolon tattooed in black on the inside of my left wrist. The upper “part” — for lack of a better word — is in the shape of a heart & about 3/4″ high/wide, and the lower part is slightly smaller. The raised, white-ish scar from my last suicide attempt crosses my wrist diagonally between them. 💔 Traditionally, the upper portion is round but I chose to make it a heart for three reasons: #1 — To keep urging myself to let go of my self-hatred & remind myself to love myself; #2 — To remind myself that I am not alone… there is help… there is hope; and #3 — To remember those I have loved & lost to suicide and remind myself of the unbearable pain and heartbreak I suffered when each of them took their lives… …as well as reminding myself that I promised my loved ones I never would subject them to that same heartache by ending my story too soon. It’s going to be very difficult keeping my promise, but I will because I still have many more chapters to write in the book that is the story of my life.

  6. Leslie drury September 1, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    Getting mine done tomorrow. With Stay Strong; on my inner lower arm. I expect a lot of questions. All I can say is my story will continue. I feel so badly inside but I’m not succumbing to suicide. I once believed that was the answer for me. But I don’t want my family to be hurt or shamed by my selfish act. It’s been a rough couple of months but one day at a time, sometimes it’s minutes…I am trying to get through til it gets better. Everyone spread the word. Let people know it’s ok to have a mental illness. I’m bipolar. I’ve been called crazy and psycho instead of someone just giving me a hug.

  7. Steve September 4, 2016 at 6:17 am #

    I just got a 1″ tall, Bi(sexual) Pride colored (magenta, purple, blue) semicolon at the bottom of my left bicep. After resisting the diagnoses of depression and bi polar disorder for years, I just recently started meds and am publicly and vocally owning my dis-ease. The tattoo is an open effort at starting a conversation. I am coming from much the same place as Chris, I want to be understood and will be as vocal and visible as I feel that I need to be in order to achieve this. The struggle with my sexuality in many ways mirrors the struggle for acceptance that those who suffer from mental health issues confront – shame and the ignorance of others. The fight is real. On both fronts. I will be as open, in-your-face, honest and real as I need to be. My life depends on it.

  8. csr September 5, 2016 at 3:19 am #

    I have C-PTSD and have been struggling so much lately. I need something to lift me up. I have been looking into the semicolon project for a while now. Do you know of any place in Los Angeles that I can get the tattoo? I have very limited funds. It would be my first tattoo….looking forward

  9. Kimberlee September 26, 2016 at 9:44 pm #

    I plan on getting one as soon as I decide where, I have had issues with

    drugs, hurting myself and attempted suicides when I was younger

    (teens and twenties). Now I battle with depression but I am working on

    it by not being afraid to ask for help. I will not let it defy me! I have a faith

    and honesty tattoo that I got for strength, the semicolon will be my next.

  10. Indianapolis, IN October 25, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    Andrea, your story is felt so deeply. We are in so much pain from the loss of our son at 48. A good friend shared her wrist semicolon tattoo at his funeral service just a few weeks ago. We pray this depression will be lifted from you permanently, God and His grace can do this for you. Seek and you will find, knock and He will answer….I am planning along with my family to share the semicolon project and help more awareness to mental health. You will be in our prayers everyday, stay strong and to your promise. You will have a beautiful life because you took the first step, you want it for yourself and those you love. Together we can make a difference! Hugs! Indianapolis, IN

  11. Jenn November 3, 2016 at 11:16 am #

    I think this awesome .. I have had a lot of issues with self harm, drug addiction and depression – I was suicidal for years and finally took the leap last Thanksgiving taking every pill in my stash and curling up in a sleeping back- I awoke in an ICU intubated several days later supposedly agitated that it didn’t work …. today I have been sober for 11 months, on just enough mess to keep me level and enjoy everyday – good and bad …. if I saw someone with this tattoo I would certainly feel connected to others who struggle
    I’m gonna get on me too !!
    Thanks

  12. Allison39 November 3, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

    Beauty and grace are won easily for some, for others the challenge is much greater.
    Carry the love forward, you inspire me to do the same;

  13. Donna Swopes November 3, 2016 at 9:09 pm #

    Once a vibrant career oriented single mom.always on the move. Two years ago i had a massive stroke i am now paralyzed on my left side in a wheel chair part time. Had to give up my car.Had to cut my hair off. My life is so incredibly different and its so hard to get used to and i dont want to get used to it. But its my life right now. I fall in and out of depression almost on a daily basis. But i fight and i will continue to fight. I dont believe god bought me this far to leave me like this. Im looking for a job right now and im going to turn my life around. Im still so full of life and im going to keep living. And i hope everyone out there fighting wins because the struggle is real.

  14. Donna Swopes November 3, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my battle.

  15. Debbie Bryant November 3, 2016 at 9:43 pm #

    After reading this article and the comments, I’m inspired to actuate a semi colon tattoo on my own wrist. I’ve attempted suicide myself too many times. I was diagnosed with depression after my first attempt (duh.) Medication and years of therapy followed. I’d read about the tattoos some time ago, but have hesitated having one inked on myself pretty much due to age. I mean, how many people get their first tat in their 60’s? My birthday’s coming up #65), so what better time than now to do something for myself?

  16. Susie P November 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    I live w/ major depression, anxiety, Bipolar 2, and PTSD. I was diagnosed after I had 3 nervous breakdowns back to back in ’08. Prior to that I had been self medicating w/ alcohol for decades. Well, after the breakdowns I was a mess and attempted several serious suicides, was hospitalized 4 times, eventually went catatonic and underwent ECT (shock treatment). After that We found a psychiatrist and it took 37 medications before finding the right “cocktail”. I’ve been doing well now for the past 4 yr.s, with a few quirks still, but I’m working on them. I’m even working on a book about my life. I’m going to get my semicolon soon, I just haven’t decided where to put it. It means a lot to me. My Dr. even told me that I am the author of my own life, then I read about the Semi Colon Project saying the same thing and now I am writing about my life!!! The ultimate 3! I would also like to say that my brother took his own life at 19 and no one saw it coming, even it retrospect I can say there were no signs. But it changed me forever. I did go to drug rehab because of his death. So I guess there was kind of a silver lining. I still think of him a lot and it’s been over 30 yr.s. I will never put my family through that now. I am better now and I will continue to get better as time goes on. I have a lot of support and love. And soon I will have my sei colon to remind me.

  17. Becky November 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    My daughter & granddaughter both have the tattoo ; on their wrist to remind them of their battle with depression

  18. Laurie November 4, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I too have suffered from severe depression and anxiety most of my life.I am now 58 and I am so tired of pretending, putting on the brave face, the fake smile, just to make other people happy. I feel no joy or happiness and have lost interest in everything. I do not go out of the house unless it is absolutely necessary. It’s exhausting to wash my hair, put on makeup and get dressed. It all seems overwhelming! If it were not for my beloved dog I would not be here now. I do not want to leave her alone and fear where she could end up.
    I have tried numerous medications and therapy over the years but nothing has helped.I have entertained the thought of suicide countless times. It sounds like “sweet relief.” However, stories like yours, others and my dog keep me fighting when all I really want is to end the struggle and go away. I could finally rest!
    I am going to get the semicolon tattoo as a daily reminder to keep going even though I see and feel no reason to do so. I am numb and feel only sadness and pain.
    My hope is that seeing my tattoo daily will remind me that I am not alone.
    Thank you for listening.

  19. Wayne George November 4, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Thank you! Recently dual diagnosed PTSD/SUD accompanied by mild bi polar and depression. American veteran who had no idea why he was broken fir 27 years
    Stars and stripes semi colon or camouflaged?

  20. Rick November 4, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    This is such an inspiring story, I suffer from depression and although I don’t believe I could ever commit suicide, I do think about and have those feelings. I will be getting one on my wrist for people to see and ask about. This story has changed a lot of feelings and the way I think about things. Thank you for your story and everyone who has made a comment here.

  21. Kimberlee November 4, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

    I learned of it browsing the internet for a new tattoo, I thought “I want that”. A couple weeks later I had it put on the top of my hand just above the wrist bone and I love it. I have battled with depression, drugs, alcohol, hurting myself, and attempted suicide. I still have some bad days but I survive. I am happy to explain what my semi colon tattoo means, not just for me but for all who have and still suffer.

  22. Rodney Frazer November 4, 2016 at 8:18 pm #

    such an encouraging and inspirational statement generated from such a small punctuation

  23. B.R.L November 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

    I have PNES and I don’t have a tattoo of the semi colon yet. But I hope to one day. I hope to get the period in a teal color and the comma in a purple color. Because those are the colors to stand for PNES. “Mental illness” & epilepsy. Throughout my life I’ve been depressed due to emotional abuse. PNES is caused by stress, anxiety, and depression. It is a seizure disorder that non many people know about. But it’s real- just like the side affects that come along with it. But I hope all of you and many others can stay positive in life. We are here for a reason whether you believe it or not.

  24. Kathleen November 6, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    Andrea Joy Phoenix … thank you for sharing and for your beautiful explanation of the heart. I had tears in my eyes reading your comments.

  25. Chris November 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

    Depression runs in my family. I have lost friends to suicide and have tried in a way myself. I had my semicolon tattoo put on the back of my hand at the base of my thumb. It just so happened that it is over one of the self inflicted cigarette burns that I inflicted to myself years ago. I am over the suicide part and keep struggling to maintain that. To all of you out there. I came up with this saying years ago. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Stay strong and seek out a friend…..we are all out there and will help you through your pain.

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