Grammar 8 min read

; Semicolon Tattoo: Because Your Story Isn't Over

Editor’s Note: This post was published for informational purposes only. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please head over to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to find immediate support.

Main Semicolon Tattoo Takeaways:

  • A semicolon tattoo features the semicolon punctuation mark (;).
  • It is a message of solidarity in the struggle against suicide, addiction, and depression.
  • In grammar, instead of choosing to end a sentence with a period, authors use a semicolon to mean a pause before a sentence continues.
  • For this reason, the semicolon tattoo represents where a life could have ended, but chose to endure and continue.
  • Project Semicolon is a nonprofit organization designed to support individuals struggling with mental illness or suicidal tendencies.
  • Creative semicolon designs make the tattoo more personal by transforming the symbol into hearts, infinity signs, butterflies, dragonflies, and other unique artwork.

Tattoos can be immensely personal. They can represent milestones and achievements. They can also commemorate memories and loved ones. What does a semicolon tattoo mean? Here, we explore its history and how it helps erase stigmas surrounding mental health issues.

Why is a Semicolon a Symbol for Depression?

In literature, a semicolon symbolizes the continuation of a sentence rather than an ending. Similarly, in life, a semicolon tattoo symbolizes an individual’s choice to keep going. It lets people know that life, like a sentence, can go on. A semicolon inked on someone’s wrist symbolizes hope in the face of depression, suicide, addiction, or mental illness. What’s more, the symbol has long been associated with Project Semicolon. This nonprofit organization fights to erase the stigma around these issues. It also uses the tattoo to raise awareness about them.

A cartoon drawing of a wrist tattooed with a semicolon punctuation mark to help illustrate the meaning behind the Semicolon tattoo.
The semicolon tattoo reminds people suffering from depression, addiction, and suicidal tendencies that their stories are not yet over.

A Brief History of the Semicolon Tattoo

In 2013, Amy Bleuel transformed the semicolon from a simple punctuation mark into a meaningful social symbol.

Bleuel sought to honor her father after losing him to suicide. She searched for a symbol that could represent hope in the face of suicide. And, also be a symbol hope for those struggling with depression, addiction, and other mental health issues.

The ideal symbol, Bleuel realized, was the semicolon.

“Through the pain came inspiration and a deeper love for others. God wants us to love one another despite the label we wear. I do pray my story inspires others. Please remember there is hope for a better tomorrow. ~Amy Bleuel, Founder, The Semicolon Project

Beyond the personal meaning that the semicolon carried for her, Bleuel founded Project Semicolon. This nonprofit organization is designed to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Furthermore, the project supports individuals struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts.

Its slogan—Your story isn’t over—is embodied by the semicolon.

A semicolon integrated into an infinity loop to signify that your story isn't over yet.
The semicolon was chosen by Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, because it represents a continuation and not an ending.

This organization encourages and empowers those living with depression. Furthermore, it provides a safe place to discuss suicidal thoughts and draw strength from a community of survivors.

Sadly, Bleuel lost her own lifelong battle with depression at the age of 31. Her legacy lives on through her organization. And, the many lives it enriches.

Should I get a Semicolon Tattoo?

The three main reasons to get a semicolon tattoo are to honor survivors of mental illness, raise awareness for these causes, and show your support for this community. This inked punctuation mark has come to stand for something that is empowering and intimate. First, it is an affirmation of life. Moreover, it’s a message of solidarity in the struggle against suicide, addiction, and depression. For example, if you’ve survived hardship or tragedy, it’s a powerful reminder of how far you’ve come. Even if you haven’t struggled with these themes personally, a semicolon tattoo is also a bold way to show your support for those who have endured.

Whether you want to tell your own story or support someone else in their struggle, you might be considering a semicolon tattoo.

Ultimately, getting a tattoo is a personal choice. However, here are a few things to consider before getting a semicolon tattoo:

  • You may need permission: If you’re under 18, you’ll need a parent or guardian’s permission to get the tattoo.
  • Be ready to share: A semicolon tattoo symbolizes your battle with depression, suicide, or mental health illness. People might ask, so make sure you’re ready to share your story.
  • There are non-permanent options: If you want to support the cause but don’t want a permanent tattoo, consider drawing a semicolon somewhere on your body instead. Or, using a semi-permanent option like henna. Both are a temporary but effective way to deliver the same message.

Here are 3 reasons to get a Semicolon Tattoo:

1. Honor Survivors

In writing, a semicolon is a common punctuation mark that signals a pause rather than the end of a sentence. As a tattoo, the semicolon is meant to remind these inked individuals that their stories aren’t over.

For this reason, Bleuel saw the semicolon as representing the continuation of life. As a result, Bleuel believed the semicolon was a perfect metaphor for surviving.

A semicolon mark superimposed on a heart. Text reads "You Matter."
Over the years, the semicolon tattoo has turned into a symbol of hope for people suffering from depression and addiction. It’s been used to spread awareness and to let people know that they matter.

In this way, the tattoo honors lives that could have ended but didn’t. And, encourages them to share their tales.

Through its message, Project Semicolon its followers help others continue to write their story.

2. Raise Awareness

One of Project Semicolon‘s main goals is and is to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. That’s how the semicolon tattoo was born.

Individuals affiliated with Project Semicolon and suicide survivors or individuals struggling with mental health issues began to tattoo semicolons on their bodies.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP

National Drug Helpline at 1-844-289-0879

Outside of the community, the tattoo helps keep these important themes visible.

For instance, someone might see the tattoo and ask about what it means. As a result, this helps start conversations about difficult topics like depression, suicide, and addiction.

On one hand, these conversations help further erase stigmas around discussing and seeking help for these issues.

On the other hand, these conversations help educate people about these struggles and how they can contribute to helping someone continue their story.

3. Show Your Support

Among survivors and supporters, the hope was to create a sense of pride and community. In turn, this comradery could help to erase any stigma around suicide and mental illness.

These days, thousands of individuals around the world proudly sport semicolon tattoos.

These tattoos start conversations about once-taboo topics. Additionally, these small symbols let people know that they aren’t alone.

Three panels showing different variations of the semicolon tattoo. First panel shows the semicolon tattoo with the dot on top of the comma replaced by a heart. Second panels shows a semicolon with wings on each side. Third panels shows a semicolon with a butterfly resting on the upper right corner of the dot.
Claim V;CTORY over your struggle.

Semicolon Tattoo Ideas

To create unique semicolon-inspired designs, many tattoo artists incorporate semicolons into other images.

One famous example is the cat. It can be created by replacing the top portion (the dot) of the semicolon with a cat’s head, while the curved portion forms a tail.

Another popular option is replacing the top dot of the semicolon with a heart.

As semicolon tattoos find their way into our national culture, people add their own creative twists to represent their unique stories. Combine this powerful symbol with artwork or quotations to imbue it with even more personal meaning.

Other people opt to combine the semicolon with other symbols of hope and survival to create additional meaning.

One unique design shows the dot of the semicolon dissolving into birds flying away. In many cultures, birds represent freedom, making this a potent and beautiful symbol of the potential for moving on.

Here are other symbols that you can combine with semicolon tattoos:

  • Hearts
  • Infinity signs
  • Crosses
  • Heartbeat lines
  • Musical notes
  • Rainbows

These images may represent a person’s interests. Or, symbolize the things that helped them through difficult times.

Hearts may also represent support for friends or family living with depression.

Where to Place Your Semicolon Tattoo

Although the wrist is the most common place for a semicolon tattoo, you can get one anywhere.

However, its customary for the tattoo to be visible. This is to help start conversations about personal and collective struggles with mental illness.

Ideal places for a semicolon tattoo include:

  • wrist
  • ankle
  • shoulder
  • behind an ear
  • fingers or toes

Because it’s not the Final Word: A Note To Those who may be Struggling

Unlike a period, the semicolon does not end a sentence. Instead, it communicates that the sentence will continue.

If you or someone you know are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, you’re never alone.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free, confidential support to anyone and everyone. Reach the hotline 24 hours a day by dialing 1-800-273-8255.

If you’re struggling with addiction, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

Your life is worth it.

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Pam Weber

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, Writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

Comments (8)
Most Recent most recent
  1. Daniel Chege September 20 at 4:12 pm GMT

    Thanks Krist for sharing such thoughtful article, keep up the good work.

    • Krista Grace Morris September 28 at 10:02 am GMT

      Daniel, thank you for your kind comment and praise. We sincerely appreciate your time! Stay safe.

  2. Michelle Silva October 23 at 4:43 am GMT

    Such a strong and meaningful article really struck a chord with me great work. I honor project semicolon, I had recently gotten the tattoo in support of the organization. Keep up the wonderful work to spread awareness

    • Krista Grace Morris October 23 at 9:58 am GMT

      Michelle, thank you sincerely for your beautiful message. We’re proud to play our small part in honoring this project. Thank you again for your words and for helping us spread the word by sharing! Stay safe.

  3. Steve Ayers January 30 at 1:47 am GMT

    Glad I found your article. I recently wrote a piece on the history of the semicolon and learned about Project Semicolon. Your article is a big help.

    • Rechelle Ann Fuertes March 17 at 10:57 am GMT

      Hi Steve, we’re glad you found us and that you are also contributing to such a crucial yet sadly overlooked initiative. We hope our small contributions can further the project’s visibility and continue to improve lives every day. Let’s keep the fire burning! Thank you again for your comment and for helping give this subject a voice.

  4. Rahel Heyer May 03 at 8:36 pm GMT

    Thank you for sharing! I just recently learned about the semicolon Tattoo. Your article was very helpful.

    • Rechelle Ann Fuertes May 04 at 10:54 am GMT

      You’re welcome, Rahel. Please help us spread awareness regarding this issue by sharing our post with your family and friends. Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!

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