9 beautiful semicolon tattoos our readers shared to destigmatize mental health challenges

If you've been online this week, you've probably seen something about the semicolon tattoo.

But in case you haven't, here's the short version: It's a tattoo that represents mental health struggles and the importance of suicide prevention.

I wrote an article about it earlier this week. When we posted it on Facebook, our readers shared inspiring messages, stories, and words of encouragement for one another, and many also posted pictures of their own semicolon tattoos.


I was blown away by the responses and reached out to several of the people who posted their own photos.

They were happy to share their tattoos and stories. I was touched by what they told me, and I hope you also find encouragement, hope, and inspiration in their words. Here are their stories.

1. A mom and her daughters, fighting together.

Denise and her daughters, Tayler and Olivia, got their semicolon tattoos right before they participated in the "Out of the Darkness" walk for suicide.

"My oldest daughter's first boyfriend died by suicide two years ago," Denise said. "Additionally, both of my girls have major depressive disorders and have struggled with ideation of suicide and self-harm."

"We treat their depression like any other disease, and are hopeful our tattoos will help counter the social stigma associated with mental illness and depression."

2. It's not a trend — it's a permanent reminder to keep going.

After being diagnosed with depression in 2005, Natalie LeFaivre got her semicolon tattoo in 2014 "as a reminder to me every day that with every step I take, my story isn't over."

"People ask all the time what it means," she said. "I used to be embarrassed about what I have gone through, but now if I can help out just one person, it's worth it."

"People may think it is dumb or just a trend but to those of us who have gone through depression or other things, it means so much more," she said. "And it is a permanent reminder to ourselves to continue to love who we are and to keep going."

3. She's never alone or unloved.

"I have suffered from depression since I was a teenager and now have a daughter suffering from depression and bipolar," Desirea said after sharing her butterfly semicolon tattoo. "My best friend and I got the tattoos to provide a visual reminder of never being alone or unloved."

4. It's not just a tattoo — it's protection from herself.

Kasey Tourangeau said, "I got [my tattoos] as a reminder that life is for living. They help me to cope and remember that there is more than the hurt you're feeling in the moment. They protect me from me."

"I have (and still am) going through rough times. I suffered in silence from self harm, because I didn't know who to turn to or what to say. Too many times I have wanted to end my life and through reading stories about these foundations, I found my light."

"'Love' on my wrist has come from the TWOLHA foundation. It told me to love myself, even when I didn't think there was anything to love. The semicolon came as a reminder: when things get bad, just take a pause and continue living. The butterfly around it not only represented life, but also the 'butterfly project' something I relied on when I was younger to stop hurting myself. If you cut the butterfly, you kill them. They protect you from you, for all intents and purposes."

5. "I am here for a reason."

44-year-old mom and survivor Serina Simmons used to cut herself in high school and attempted suicide at the age of 17.

"I have had severe depression since I was very young and have had to learn how to cope with it for the sake of my four children," she said. "My tattoo is mainly for myself, to remind me that I am here for a reason. It is also a promise to myself and my kids that I will be strong and complete my story."

6. Awareness and support matter.

Bill Glennon is glad for the awareness the semicolon tattoo is spreading. "This has a growing awareness," he said. "And that is good in my book. We need the support."

7. It represents a second chance — and memorializes someone who didn't make it.

"I decided to get my tattoo after recent events regarding my brother, as he is in a really bad place at the moment. Since he likes tattoos, it seemed perfect," Kerrieanne Derbyshire said about her tattoo.

"I turned it into a butterfly, as butterflies represent the soul and I feel like personally I have a second chance after suffering from depression myself and seeking help. The butterfly is also for my cousin who lost her battle."

8. People are showing support for family members who are struggling.


Amy Purnest (left) and her best friend got semicolon tattoos together. Amy did it for her cousin, who deals with depression.

When Amy's cousin told her about The Semicolon Tattoo Project, her cousin explained, "There are days the depression almost wins. Every time I see that tattoo, or someone with 'love' on their arm, it reminds me there's hope.'"

"I got it for her," Amy said. "And if over the course of my lifetime just one person sees my tattoo and it makes them feel the same way, then it was worth it."

9. And they're showing support for friends who are struggling.

Joseph D'Amico shared, "I did this for my friend's daughter about a year ago."

Call it a trend, call it a movement, call it whatever you like, but the bottom line is this: The semicolon tattoo is a sign of survival, hope, and awareness. And that's what matters.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

True

The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."