When a Life Could Have Ended, But Didn’t: The Semicolon Movement

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semicolon movementIf you come across a wrist tattooed with a semicolon, don’t write the person off as a grammar dweeb or unstable weirdo. The decorated individual is merely expressing that his life … much like a sentence … almost ended, but didn’t. The Semicolon Movement on Tumblr was created “for anyone who has ever self-harmed, has a personality disorder, or has tried to commit suicide,” according to its webpage.

This peculiar punctuation is being used as a sign of hope, a symbol that connotes the possibility of new beginnings after a long, awkward, and painful pause.

For example, the first Tumblr post is entitled, “I Will Beat This,” and says, “I am borderline anorexic bulimic. I have self-harmed. I have wanted to die many times. My sentence never ended. I am a freshman in high school.” Images of tattooed semi-colons and other personal blog posts fill the page.

There is also a Semicolon Project, “a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to presenting hope, help, and support to the people and communities suffering from mental health issues. We are here to address depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction, and suicide. We aim to inspire and encourage people to do one of the hardest things imaginable: ask for help when they need it most.”

The website announces today, April 16, as a day of support for those who live with depression or anxiety and for their loved ones. It says, “On April 16, 2014, everyone who self-harms, is suicidal, depressed, has anxiety, is unhappy, going through a broken heart, just lost a loved one, etc., draw a semicolon on your wrist. A semicolon represents a sentence the author could’ve ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

I’ve always liked to use the semicolon in my writing; perhaps it is because there are several times when my life could have ended — moments I counted up all the pills that could have stopped my pulse — but didn’t. My sentence, with all its awkward pauses, continues.

Image: projectsemicolon.org

Originally published on Sanity Break.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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2 Responses
  1. This piece is very moving; profound; uncomplicated in it’s depth and meaning; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; it has stayed top of my mind all day; I had to redo my semicolon “tattoos” a couple of times; wish I’d been able to get away from home and out in public to look for other semicolon tattooed wrists . . . . thank you