A sentence that has more to say might use a semicolon in the middle; the words continue on the other side of the grammatical symbol for "there is more to say about this." Many people today are tattooing themselves with this symbol for basically the same reason; there is more to say and more life yet to be lived.
The movement inspiring the memorable marker in permanent body ink goes by the name "Project Semicolon." Founder and president Amy Bleuel explains that the spark for the hot trend in tattoo choice for many people came to her from the deepest sadness she has ever known: the death of her father by suicide. While the organization that she founded in his memory is a Christian one, they welcome all to share the message of hope.
All in This Together
"As we set forth in this project, we committed to loving with a Christ-like love those who are struggling. We inspire others through the very thing that brought us to continuance in our own stories." The group's website, www.projectsemicolon.com, explains that the Christian basis of the organization's faith "by no means excludes any other beliefs or religions, as we accept them all; for we are all in this together. I ask you, stick around with us on this journey. We might surprise you in the end with the outcome."
The organization sets forth its aims on its webpage:
- We envision love and hope and we declare that hope is alive.
- We envision a society that openly addresses the struggle with mental illness, suicide and addiction.
- We envision a conversation embraced by churches and addressed with love.
- We envision a society that sees the value of everyone and embraces it.
- We envision a community that comes together and stands together in support of one.
In the years since Project Semicolon launched in 2013, a powerful surge of support and acceptance has swept it into worldwide acclaim. From musicians to celebrities, people are getting the message, wearing it on their bodies, and spreading hope. The message speaks all languages with a simple symbol that says, "There is still hope for more yet to come."
Growing Awareness, Increasing Acceptance
Beginning an open and welcoming dialogue about the dark secrets that many people battle with when they face mental illness is a start. Indicating with a simple sign that one is aware of the struggles that others are going through can open up the conversation that might seem difficult to begin, at first. Communities of faith, social groups and other organizations that have a voice that reaches many in society can open a dialogue on the subject with a sermon or class that is loving, understanding and non-judgmental. People will often feel free to talk about sensitive mental health issues when they have greater understanding and an introduction to the topic.
There Is Help
For those struggling with thoughts of ending life, there is a counseling service available at 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day to offer someone to talk to and guidance for finding resources to help with problems that feel too big to take on alone; community groups, churches, hospitals and others also have local resources and information to offer to anyone in need of assistance.
Ministering With Love
For those who minister to the community, whether as part of an organized religion or in an individual ministry, awareness of mental health challenges is critical. Pastors, rabbis, reverends and imams need to know the important facts about the struggles that many people face with self-worth, identity and depression in the stressful modern world, and be able to connect those people with resources for more help, when appropriate. Lives can be saved by means of knowledge and a willingness to talk about difficult truths; with hope and compassion, the story continues.