You may have seen images floating around Twitter and Instagram of people with semicolons tattooed or written on their wrists. Are they part of a cult of grammar nerds? Are they really big fans of winky-faced emoticons? Are these people simply declaring their love for their favorite bit of punctuation? Although I would be completely on board with people who love semicolons so much that they want to mark their bodies with them forever, the purpose of these markings is actually much cooler and much more important: These semicolon tattoos are part of The Semicolon Project, a non-profit dedicated to supporting people dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, and other forms of mental illness.
The Semicolon Project is based in a simple message:
A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. That author is you and the sentence is your life.
It is a simple sign of hope and continuation, an affirmation that we have the power to move forward. The project began as a single-day event on April 16, 2013, when founders Charlee Chandler and Matthew Wills encouraged people to post images of semicolons drawn on their wrists to the Internet in a show of support and solidarity for people suffering from mental illness. That event was so successful that the Project is now ongoing, with April 16 as an annual day of awareness. The project’s website explains further,
Drawing a "Semicolon" on your wrist can act as a constant reminder and prevention strategy to help you come to your recovery, after all, you are the author of your life and you should choose not to end it.