Have you seen a semicolon inked onto someone’s wrist? When someone displays this tattoo, it means that they thought about ending their life but did not. It signifies hope and the person wants to bring attention to the plight of suicide, depression, and other mental health issues.
Just as a semicolon punctuation mark connects two independent ideas, a semicolon tattoo connects your life before the mental health crisis with the aftermath of it. It says that your story is not over yet.
The semicolon tattoo has become a very popular tattoo in the past few years. The hope that it symbolizes is a good thing, a very good reminder that life goes on, no matter what you’re going through in a current moment. However, the massive following of this tattoo also means that many people are having mental health crises.
The Secular Semicolon Tattoo Meaning and Rising Popularity of It
Amy Bleuel lost her father to suicide, and this spurred her to start Project Semicolon in 2013. Bleuel also fought mental illness in her own life. The organization’s website says that they are the nation’s most effective grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for people all over the world experiencing mental health issues. It is a faith-based nonprofit organization that seeks to encourage and bring hope to people with mental health concerns.
Amy Bleuel gave an interview in 2015 where she said, “In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on. We see it as you are the author and your life is the sentence. You’re choosing to keep going.” She chose the semicolon symbol not only to honor her father’s lost battle with depression, but also her own lifelong struggles with anxiety, self-harm, depression, and abuse. Amy wanted to show her perseverance to the world and help others as well.
Unfortunately, Amy Bleuel ultimately ended her life by suicide on March 23, 2017. She lost her battle, but her organization and the semicolon tattoo continue to call attention to mental health crises and hopefully prevent more people from ending their lives.
The Surprise Faith-Filled Semicolon Tattoo Meaning
The semicolon tattoo is a symbol of hope and not giving up when life’s troubles get you down, which is a very Christian message. Also, many people get the tattoo to honor someone they love who is struggling with mental health issues. This is loving your neighbor, which is also a Christian message. People want to use the semicolon tattoo as a conversation starter to raise awareness of important issues.
The semicolon tattoo meaning says that your story didn’t end with the crisis. And even in cases like Amy Bleuel, the legacy of the person’s story may help prevent someone else from doing the same thing in the future. Conversations about problems, trials, and mental health issues are very important. We’re not in this life alone. We need others to walk beside us and help us.
Then we also need the love of the Lord to guide us and keep us pressing on. We will never have the answers to every problem of this life, but we can have faith and confidence in a great Lord and Savior that brings us hope for the future. Through Him, we have access by faith to grace and hope so we can get through our sufferings in this life with perseverance. We know that perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope doesn’t disappoint because we have been given the Holy Spirit to comfort us (Romans 5:2-5).
We take this hope and share it with others. The semicolon tattoo movement raises awareness about mental health issues. The Christian message goes even further into hope, healing, and comfort. We share the good deeds that are evidence of God’s great work within us. The God of hope fills us with joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
We know that trials and the testing of our faith produces perseverance because the more we trust in God, the more we can continue in this life. This life can be very difficult to maneuver through for everyone. We need to speak up about our problems so that people will know that they aren’t the only ones going through them.
We can be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12) because we serve a great and sovereign God. We know that the God who began a good work within us will continue His work throughout our entire lives (Philippians 1:6).
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-24
Does the Bible Address Mental Health Struggles?
The bible doesn’t use the specific words “mental health,” but it does say a lot about the heart, the mind, and spiritual brokenness. It also says to guard your heart because everything you do flows from it. Everyone sins, and sin leaves physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Sin makes the world a scary place. God gives us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. He doesn’t give us fear. But the Lord and His Word can renew our minds and restore our souls.
One of the best examples of a mental health crisis in the bible is Elijah. He had a conflict with Queen Jezebel and fled the country, hoping that he would die and be rid of this problem. God comforted him by giving him food and letting him sleep. Elijah needed to rest and rejuvenate himself, and God helped him. Then God encouraged his spirit to keep walking forward with a renewed purpose (1 Kings 19:4). We all need God and other people to walk beside us and encourage us.
God also gives us a prescription for good mental health in Philippians 4:8. We need to fix our thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. We also need to look away from our current troubles and fix our gaze on things that aren’t seen (2 Corinthians 4:18), like a God in heaven who loves us and cares deeply for us.
We also need to follow Jesus’s example of stepping away from problems pressing in on Him from every side, so we can pray to our Father in Heaven and read His Word to get heavenly wisdom. A new perspective is the best kind of self-care.
God doesn’t leave us alone when we are brokenhearted; He saves us and soothes us. Then He takes our problems and trials and uses them for our good and His glory. God cares deeply about our mental health.
A Hopeful Conclusion
With so many going through mental health crises in our current world, there is an even greater need to spread the hope of the Gospel. Amy Bleuel said, “I wanted to tell my story to inspire others to tell their story. I wanted to start a conversation that can’t be stopped…”. We need to follow this advice and speak with others about our own problems and trials, inviting them to share theirs with us. Don’t hide your problems, pretending that you are okay. Share and discuss them with others. Then let that flow into the hope of the Gospel that can bring hope even when things remain in question.