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What is Project Semicolon?

Content warning: This article discusses some themes (anxiety, depression, and suicide) which may be uncomfortable to the reader. If you or anyone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please contact the following hotlines: Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741) or Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (call or text 988).

Have you ever come across a semicolon;? It’s an unassuming punctuation mark that is used to join two related ideas. It links clauses and aims to tell the reader that what follows after it is closely related to the thought written before it; however, it means so much more than just its intended purpose.

You probably have come across it on social media. There are people who get a semicolon tattoo, often on their wrists. Those who don’t want permanent ink choose to buy jewelry that shows a semicolon. This movement was part of a large mental health campaign called Project Semicolon. Their website states: “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life,”.

How It All Started 

In April 2013, a post from Amy Bleuel proposed an idea. It was a call out to people who were suffering from mental health problems to draw a semicolon on their wrists as a sign that their story isn’t over. They are authors of their lives and they are choosing to not end them. 

The response was massive. People were sharing photos of their semicolons; it was used as a movement to open discourse on mental health issues and erase the stigma long associated with it. With how big her impact has gotten, Bleuel was featured in various articles and she was at the helm when Project Semicolon became a full-fledged non-profit movement.

In an old Washington Post article, Bleuel shared how she struggled with depression her whole life. She started Project Semicolon not just for herself, but for her father who she lost to suicide as a teenager. From then on, the semicolon flourished to be a symbol used by people who wear their choices with pride. It represents their choice to stay alive and keep going.

How Can You Help 

If you have a loved one who has a mental health problem, one of the best ways to help is to talk and listen. Talk to this person and ask them what is troubling them. Afterward, listen to them and support them with what they want to share. Give this person the time and space they need to unload; At the same time, take care of yourself and know your limits. If you are not a medical expert, never diagnose them on your own. Instead, help them in seeking assistance so that they can get the care they need.

While supporting others in their journey is vital, your mental health matters, too. If you feel changes in your behavior or mood, it is best to talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling. You should never be ashamed of opening up, taking breaks, or getting help for the sake of your mental health.

“Stay Strong. Love endlessly. Change Lives.” ― Amy Bleuel, Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn't Over

Project Semicolon Lives On 

Now, it isn’t unusual to find people with semicolon tattoos or jewelry. The semicolon continues to be a symbol of the choice people make every single day – to live, to fight, and to continue on. It’s a silent choice they continue to hold in hopes of eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health. 

In honor of this, A Gilded Leaf has created semicolon jewelry. One of our founders has suffered from mental illness and she knew what the semi-colon meant to a lot of people. She designed this collection as a symbol of the battles they continuously fight to find peace in their lives. 

The semicolon jewelry was made to show respect for people who struggle and fight for better mental health daily. It’s a way of honoring those who campaign for this movement to open more conversations about mental health. Lastly, it’s for you; As a reminder that you are the author of your life and you are also choosing to continue and live on.

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