Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:59 pm

Semicolon tattoo reveals survivors, allies


   To select individuals, a semicolon is more than a way to continue a sentence and more of a symbol of perseverance and survival.

   The semicolon is now a symbol of life for those who thought they couldn’t survive any longer and a beacon of hope for those still struggling. 

   “It takes a different and special kind of strength to be driven to the edge and step away from the opportunity,” said Megan Petrie, a sophomore criminal justice major from Las Vegas.

   Although the symbol itself is small, the meaning behind the punctuation is larger than life. A semicolon is used in writing to signify a place where a sentence could have stopped, but the writer decided to keep going by combining two independent clauses with cohesive thoughts. The semicolon represents a life which could have ended, but the individual decided to keep going.

   “We are the authors of our own stories,” said Abigail O’neill, a junior elementary education major from North Ogden. “We write our own chapters and [choose] our own character traits.”

   O’neill is a advocate for the normalization of mental health and has worked with troubled youth. 

There has been a wave of semicolon tattoos and markings due to a suicide awareness campaign launched in recent years. Project Semicolon was founded in 2013 by the late Amy Bleuel who for 20 years struggled with bullying, mental illness and deaths of close friends and family.

The non-profit organization raises awareness about mental health and helps to education communities on resources available and steps to take if put in a life or death situation.

O’neill said she has looked into getting the tattoo and wants to get it in the future because of the message it sends and the conversations it can start.

“[Mental illness] is very common in our society, but [it’s] also very hard to detect,” O’neill said. “We, as a society, need to be more educated and know the signs. What exactly are disorders and what do they do to a person? People need to be informed.”

Petrie has seen her friends and family with the semicolon and urges others to seek help if they need it.

“If someone is struggling with mental health, it will get better,” Petrie said. “Talk to someone and seek help because everyone is willing to help you.”

Over the years, the semicolon has evolved to fit each individual in regards to art. New versions of the semicolon tattoo continue to pop up on the internet daily, reinforcing the originality of each person and the meaning behind Project Semicolon.

“Depending on the design and simplicity of the semicolon, it starts at about $60,” said Joshua Pickering, resident tattoo artist at the Zion Tattoo Company.

Pickering said the shop has done quite a few semicolon tattoos of different colors, sizes and designs.

“They were probably a bit more popular a year ago, but they’re definitely still around,” Pickering said. “It’s hard to say how many we’ve done.”

No matter the amount of time that passes, Pickering said the message remains the same and stronger than ever.

“It [symbolizes] a point in someone’s story where the sentence could’ve ended but didn’t,” Pickering said. “That’s an important mark in someone’s life, and a tattoo is a great way to celebrate.”