by Kay Klinkenborg
Rarely would I steal—not plagiarize, but steal—a title from an author or organization, but the claim to this title belongs to a remarkable young woman who started a movement with a sentence about one of the most common things we see each day of our life: a semicolon.
But, I am ahead of myself in this story. I was eating lunch on January 15, 2023 at a local restaurant and our waitress had an unusual tattoo on her wrist. A semicolon ‘;’ I couldn’t resist. “Would you mind sharing with me what that tattoo stands for? I know the pink ribbon is for breast cancer.” The semicolon was right below her left thumb…quite visible.
“Oh, the semicolon. I chose not to end the sentence at the end of my life…there is always something after a semicolon.”
I blinked with a puzzled look, then I got what she was saying.
She smiled and said it’s an international symbol to open the door to talking about depression, suicide, or mental illness. Then she stated the group’s name: “Project Semicolon. It stands for ‘I am the author of my life, and my life isn’t over, there is always something after the semicolon.’” Then she continued to explain the movement.
PROJECT SEMICOLON is the creation of Amy Bleuel. As a child, Amy lost her father, and her stepmother was abusive; she experienced rape and other types of abuse. The trauma haunted her life and several times she thought of and even attempted suicide. But one day, a semicolon spoke to her:
“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.
P.S. Your life isn’t over.”
Amy posted this in 2013 through social media and it went viral! Crossed oceans and countries and on April 16th, 2013, Project Semicolon was born. Visit the website and discover the remarkable resources this organization offers to those struggling with mental illness, suicide and/or depression. Their mission statement:
“IT’S NOT JUST A SEMICOLON, IT’S WHO WE ARE.”1
“Project Semicolon is dedicated to increasing awareness, saving lives and reducing the stigma of suicide. Our goal is to present hope to those experiencing the symptoms of mental illness and those touched by the tragedy suicide.”1
Giving proud recognition to the waitress who paused to tell me her story of survival and witness to me about a new resource for mental health challenges, I summarize below what you’ll find on the projectsemicolon.com website.
- Descriptions of most commonly known mental health issues
- Assessment tests: anxiety, bipolar, depression, PTSD, suicide, postpartum depression
- Support groups for: depression, anxiety, bipolar and addiction
- Find Treatment: locating therapists/ clinics, etc.
- SPECIAL SECTION FOR TEENS
988 Emergency Mental Health
911 Emergency Medical Treatment
+1 (800) 273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
+1 (800) 799-7233 National Domestic Violence Hotline
+1 (800) 996-6228 Family Violence Helpline
+1 (800) 784-2433 National Hopeline Network
+1 (800) 366-8288 Self-Harm Hotline
+1 (800) 230-7526 Planned Parenthood Hotline
+1 (800) 222-1222 American Association of Poison Control Centers
+1 (800) 622-2255 Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line
+1 (800) 233-4357 National Crisis Line, Anorexia and Bulimia
+1 (888) 843-4564 GLBT Hotline
+1 (866) 488-7386 TREVOR Crisis Hotline
+1 (800) 221-7044 AIDS Crisis Line
+1 (800) 422-4453 The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline
+1 (877) 565-8860 The Trans Lifeline
Some larger communities/cities have police trained to respond to a mental health crisis, others don’t. Be prepared and look in your county for local crisis hotline numbers and keep them on hand for assistance with someone in mental health distress/crisis and you need professional assistance/ don’t want to leave them alone or have had to leave to protect yourself from harm.
“Who woulda thunk…” indeed! A waitress in a restaurant sharing her personal story of surviving suicide and tapping me into looking at a “ ; ” in a different way.
Kay F. Klinkenborg, MA (January 2023)
Spiritual Director/ Companion
Member Spiritual Directors International
Retired: RN; LMFT; Clinical Member AAMFT