When did a simple punctuation mark become so profound? As we continue to bring attention to Suicide Awareness Prevention month this simple little mark has so much meaning. Take a look around and you probably have seen someone with one of these tattoos and had absolutely no idea what the meaning was behind them. For many people the symbolism shows a badge of honor, worn proudly and when asked about it, they will freely share the significance this character signifies to them.
What exactly is a semicolon? A semicolon is used in a sentence when you just aren’t ready to end it yet. The semicolon tattoo is used to remind individuals of their struggle, success, and survival over mental health related issues like depression or suicide. Mental Illness is not the end, there is always more to your story.
Our Founder, Liz Snell, has a semicolon tattoo and says this about it, “I read the meaning behind the semicolon tattoo and I thought that it was a great way to signify to others that I too am a survivor. I didn’t attempt suicide, but I was certainly close to it. I was at a point where it was on my mind every moment of every day. It is a very public proclamation of where I have been, and it is a personal reminder of a place I never want to be again. Many might try to forget the bad, but I am choosing to remember it daily so that I can see how far I have come. When I got the semicolon tattooed on my wrist the tattoo artist asked me what it meant, and I told him. His reply was insensitive, something to the effect of never could he contemplate suicide because he loved himself too much…but that was also a teachable moment”.
As Suicide Prevention Awareness month continues do not forget about the 22 veterans a day that chose to take their own lives. Additionally, we must not forget about our military families that go uncounted. There are still no measures in place to identify the number of military spouses or family members that chose to end their own lives. We must speak up and speak out. The semicolon symbolizes what each of us must do each day, continue on. Each life matters, your life matters, YOU MATTER. Never forget that.
~Tiffany Bodge is the Managing Director at Military Spouses of Strength. As a military spouse she understands the challenges that military spouses and their families face due to separation, deployment, and the continued higher ops tempo our Armed Forces face due to 14 years at war. Her passion lies in helping military spouses and families understand the importance of mental wellness.