+

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.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

Keep ReadingShow less

Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

Keep ReadingShow less