There are semicolons everywhere, and they are not just meant to display people’s love of punctuation. The presence of these is showing support for something called Project Semicolon.
This project is a worldwide mental health awareness and suicide prevention campaign. It was originally founded in 2013 by Amy Bleuel. As the project’s website relates, Bleuel got on social media with an idea: “Anyone who had ever struggled with a mental illness would draw a semicolon on their wrist and post a photo. A semicolon symbolized that a sentence wasn’t over yet, and neither was their life. The tagline was: Your story isn’t over.” In writing, a semicolon is typically a place where the author could have ended a sentence but did not. Hence, the symbolism of this punctuation is powerful.
The project not only raises suicide awareness, but seeks to break down the stigma around suicide and mental illness. According to their website, “Our goal is to present hope to those experiencing the symptoms of mental illness and those touched by the tragedy [of] suicide.” One of the ways they do this is by breaking down the exact definitions of common mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. They talk about how the conditions look and the specific kinds of help available if the reader thinks they may be struggling with one or more of them.
Today, their website also promotes general mental health awareness, including a self-evaluation for mental illnesses. Though not necessarily therapist-backed, it is a way to become more self-aware about mental health and see if one is at risk for mental health issues. There are many resources on their website, including the aforementioned large reference guide on mental health conditions and how to receive help. They even have support groups and free mental health sessions to help people going through tough times. Essentially, the project is meant to help people to find hope. And, if the stories of hope on their website are anything to go by, they have certainly succeeded.