Semicolon Tattoo Symbol For Those Battling Depression


A new trend among those “struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury” is the practice of getting a tattoo in the form of a semicolon. As explained by Project Semicolon, the faith-based non-profit group that has popularized the tattoo, the semicolon is meaningful for depressed people because it “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.” Seeing as untreated depression can lead to a host of self-harming behaviors such as substance abuse and suicidal thoughts or actions, the group’s message is a powerful one.

A Community for the Despondent

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16 million Americans over the age of 18 experienced a serious depressive episode at some point in 2012. Among the most common symptoms of depression are profound feelings of sadness, hopelessness and self-loathing. These feelings often induce sufferers to pull away from friends and family while simultaneously engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as increased consumption of recreational drugs and alcohol and self-injury. Addressing both the self-imposed isolation and social stigma surrounding mental illness, Project Semicolon proposes using the punctuation mark as a shibboleth for a community of people whose lives have been greatly affected by depression.

What the Organization Is and What It Isn’t

It is important to note that Project Semicolon is not a mental health resource. The group does not offer treatment for depression or any other mental disorder. The organization’s mission is to give hope to the despondent by offering them a place to interact and connect with others who have had similar experiences. And though Project Semicolon is a Christian organization, it welcomes people of all faiths who are struggling with mental health issues.

The Difficult First Step

If anyone you know is exhibiting signs of suicidal ideation, seek help immediately. However, if a friend or loved one seems depressed, a group like Project Semicolon may prove to be useful. Whether a person is using Mayo Clinic-approved treatments for depression like traditional talk therapy, courses of anti-depressant medications or the kind of cognitive behavioral therapy that is outlined in many self-help books, the healing process begins with an admission that a problem exists. Joining a community where people openly and honestly discuss their struggles with depression may be the stepping stone an afflicted individual needs to begin their path to a meaningful and lasting recovery.