Why a Semicolon?
Have you ever seen someone walking around with a semicolon necklace, pictured on their shirt or tattooed on their body?
Did you know what the semicolon stood for, what it represented, and what it meant?
Well let me tell you.
The person you saw has or loves someone who has an untold story to tell. A story with or without words. What matters most is that the person has a story with a genre that belongs in the “bravery” section. They may have a story of pain that’s been slowly transforming to hope and healing. They may love a brave soul who has woven this hope into their own life’s narrative.
The semicolon they wear with pride, represents the making of a choice.
A choice to stay alive.
A choice to create for themselves a life worth living.
A choice to keep going even with the pain of mental illness, trauma or suicidal thoughts.
A semicolon represents a sentence that the author could have ended, but chose not to.
It represents a choice you could have made to end your story, but instead, chose to continue on.
Your choice is silent, but powerful.
A choice to take one more brave step.
To take that next inhale and look ahead.
A choice to be expansive when every part of you wants to shrivel up.
A choice that, when made, allows new opportunities to unfold in your life.
A choice to have more.
To be more.
To love more.
To allow more.
To fight more
To shine more.
To live more.
Project Semicolon is a movement that encourages those who have anxiety, depression or another mental illness that has led to self harm or attempted suicide, to wear a semicolon on their person with pride.
The semicolon is a symbol of hope for people who live with tortured thoughts of suicidal ideation. The message is "I'm ready to write my next chapter" or “We are here for you. We support you. Keep strong”.
How powerful it is that society has taken a stance and huge strides to reduce stigma and better support those in pain!
September is Suicide Awareness month, which is specifically dedicated to raising awareness of and educating the community about ways they can help prevent suicide and offer support to those in pain.
According to US Department for Health and Human Services, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the rates are on the rise since the start of covid-19. In the United States, approximately 40,000 people commit suicide every year, a 24% rise compared to suicide rates in 1999 (Curtin, Warner & Hedegaard, 2016). These numbers are frighteningly high.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Know how to pick up the subtle cues to know when someone is suffering.
A small reaching out and connecting someone with the right resources can change a life.
Help bring awareness to your community.
Normalize the conversation by talking naturally and non-judgmentally about medications used to treat mental illness and destigmatize asking for help. In the same way you might talk about going to the dermatologist for a skin condition. For more ideas about how you can make a difference in your community click here.
Change the language around suicide.
When people do die of suicide, it’s not accurate to say that they “committed suicide”. The term is used to describe crimes. When someone dies of suicide, it’s because they were sick with an illness. We don’t say committed cancer or committed a heart attack. There are ways to help cure this illness, but when it’s discovered late, healing can be more complicated (again, similar to cancer).
Check in with your friends.
All of them. Yes, especially your ‘strong friends’. Often your friends that seem the strongest are the ones who suffer in silence. Appearing successful or put-together does not mean no struggles. It simply means a better show. Talk openly about dark times and the things that helped you get to hope again. You never know how validated your friend will feel, especially one who is suffering in silence. Check in and love on those around you. Because, at the end of the day, love is what heals the hurting heart. So lets spread some love.
And when you have come out of a dark cave or a difficult phase in your life, help is waiting for you. Gain the courage to ask for it.
Most of us have moments that make us pause. Some are “semicolon” moments and some are significant heaviness, fear, worries, unknowns or choppy waters of life. After any kind of semicolon moment, remember, the next part of the sentence is waiting there for you to write it.