This Is What Those Semicolon Tattoos Really Mean

It's not about grammar.

To some, a semicolon is but a piece of punctuation, an English grammar tool used to connect two sentences but still keep them separate — like two chapters of a story. But to others, the semicolon is a symbol of hope, hard times and determination to keep going and, sometimes, a symbol of life. 

Enter Project Semicolon, a movement that's bringing mental health awareness to the forefront. This past April, it encouraged those who have depression, anxiety or those who have self-harmed or attempted suicide to draw semicolons on their wrists.


As explained on its social media accounts and website: "A semicolon represents a sentence that the author could have ended, but chose not to. That author is you and the sentence is your life."

In 2013, someone committed suicide every 12.8 minutes.

During the call to action, many people (including similar organizations) participated and helped spread the word, but the semicolon has since grown from just ink to symbol of solidarity and hope.

But it's not new. Meet Colleen Duffy.

She's a 24-year-old Pennsylvania resident who got the semicolon back in 2013. 

She and her friend in college had seen the symbol pop up here and there on Facebook during a suicide awareness day, and they knew right then and there they needed to have it. Not only did Duffy lose a friend in high school, but she went through a period of depression and anxiety attacks in high school herself. 

She's now a grad student studying psychology and, as the semicolon tattoo becomes more popular, she feels like it makes her part of a group that has each other's backs. 

"It just felt right. No regrets all," she told A Plus.

Plus, every time someone asks about it, she gets to spread awareness. 

Now, countless others have shared their own real-life semicolon tattoos online as well.

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Project Semicolon hopes that those with the tattoo will always have a reminder of their struggle, but also their strength. 

Duffy definitely does. And others are joining in, too. 

"For me to have this on my wrist and spread that awareness, that means a ton," she said.