“Today, although sad, we’re reminded of the reason why Project Semicolon exist. Suicide has the ability to strike at the heart of the very cause that aims to eliminate it. Today we lost a giant and from this day on, together, we’ll carry her legacy forward.”
– Michael Shields, Project Semicolon CEO (2017)
Trigger warning: This post contains references to suicide and self harm.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Project Semicolon? Started by Amy Bleuel in 2013, the organization is dedicated to providing support for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, self-harm, and suicide.
They are most well known for popularizing semicolon wrist tattoos. Why semicolons? The org’s website explains that, “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.”
Amy Bleuel died by suicide one year ago today.
I didn’t know her personally. I was only dimly aware of her organization, although I’d seen plenty of semicolon tattoos. And had known for a long time that, although I am exceptionally weirded out by the idea of putting such a permanent mark on my body and will therefore never get a tattoo, if I had to pick one it would be the semicolon on my wrist. Simple, unobtrusive, and elegant, yet powerful.
Although I have, thankfully, never lost a loved one to suicide, I’ve tried to kill myself before. And I’ve seen the impact it has on others. One of the members of my therapy group at college lost a friend to suicide several years ago and it hurts her so, so much even now. Has made her want to kill herself… but what stopped her was the knowledge of how it would effect everyone she left behind.
I don’t want it to sound as though I think suicide is selfish, because I don’t think it is. But I don’t know anyone involved in the mental health/recovery community who hasn’t been touched in some way by suicide. We were all touched when Amy died.
I don’t believe in fate. I don’t believe that some of us were predestined to make it and others, not so much. But some might not make it. And that doesn’t make them any lesser. And that’s the only way I know how to come to terms with losses like these. They may not physically be here anymore, but that doesn’t make their lives any less valuable or our love for them diminish and the memories fade away.
RIP AMY BLEUEL 1985-2017