“In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on. We see it as you are the author and your life is the sentence. You’re choosing to keep going."
This is how Amy Bleuel explained the meaning behind Project Semicolon, the non-profit organization she founded in 2013 to honor her father after losing him to suicide, and which since then has served as a source of hope and inspiration for people all over the world.
As stated on the Project Semicolon website:
"Through the semicolon symbol many related to the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and their will to continue on. The title, 'Project Semicolon,' also represented a goal — to believe that this is not the end but a new beginning.
As the days passed and the project was developed further, it became clear that this symbol was not just about one person. We heard from people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well."
Sadly, on March 23, 2017, Amy died by suicide at the young age of 31, as confirmed by sources at The Mighty.
Amy wanted her organization to provide positivity and love for all those who suffer from mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. It's also for those who have struggled with suicide and self-harm.
Semicolon tattoos, as well as semicolon drawings, serve as a sign of strength and hope for both those who have them and those who come across them.
Millions of self-named "Mental Health Warriors" have gotten semicolon tattoos since the organization started. As one warrior wrote:
"It is just one word with one tiny symbol replacing a letter. But it is inked deep into my cousin’s skin to send a message to herself and to everyone who struggles with mental illness: You are a warrior. You must not give up."
Amy opened up about her own depression in a beautiful, heartfelt interview with The Gospel Herald, stating:
"Alcoholism, depression, anxiety, self-destruction and the basic feelings of failure came out and manifested themselves to a different extreme in my 30's. By my late 30's I had four major suicide attempts under my belt, two almost succeeding. I chose help for my alcoholism during both of these hospital stays but failed to stay sober.
This story isn't to invoke feelings of pity or for anyone to "feel sorry" ... To me, it's the opposite. It's about accepting. New beginnings. The realization of strength I didn't know I had in me. It's putting a whole lot out there. It's about supporting this amazing project. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide ... I've got a little of it all. But now I have something so much more. MY semicolon."
According to an article in the Wisconsin Independent, Amy had already written a book that will be published by Harper Collins later this year, aptly titled, Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over Yet, and will include a compilation of stories from Project Semicolon's online community.
These beautiful examples show how much Amy's movement has touched and inspired those who suffer to keep going and not give up, despite Amy's tragic death.
This semicolon tattoo is my own. I got it last year in honor of my continuing battle with depression and anxiety.
Although I still struggle with suicidal thoughts and self-harming, I know that I'm not done fighting — fighting for myself, fighting for Amy and fighting for all others who fight their own mental illnesses every day.
It's a constant battle, but we can't back down.
I REFUSE to back down.
"My story isn't over yet ..."
You will be severely missed, Amy. We love you.
If you would like to donate to Amy's organization, Please visit her website by clicking here.