World Semicolon Day

Of all my tattoos, my semicolon generates the most questions.

  • What is that?

    • The least-understood punctuation in the English language.

  • What does it mean?

    • A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence but chose not to. The author is me and the sentence is my life.

    • Project Semicolon -

  • Why is it on your wrist?

    • In a fit of rage many years ago, I put my fist through a window, and was rewarded with jagged pieces of glass gouged into my wrist.

    • I used the tattoo to cover up the bulk of the resulting scar, and as a reminder to think before I act.

  • Did it hurt?

    • Yes. I will let my favorite new comic explain (scroll to the end)

Similar to the Jeep Wave, there is an unspoken acknowledgement when you see a fellow human with this tattoo. It can mean they survived an attempt at suicide, or that they lost someone close to them to suicide, or that they support the cause. Generally, it’s a brief head nod; sometimes, the acknowledgement turns into a brief conversation. It is harshly soothing to meet someone who glimpsed the end of their sentence or that of a loved one. In those moments we get to unburden ourselves in the presence of someone who really knows.

Those unaware of the meaning are visibly shocked when I reply matter-of-factly: “It represents suicide prevention awareness, and I survived attempts to end my life.”

Some people rear back, some freeze, others blink as they comprehend a word that is rarely used in conversations with strangers. The most common reply I receive is: “Well, I’m really glad that you are still here.” I find it amazing that complete strangers consistently acknowledge that they are happy I am still alive. I say thank you, and hope that the person I just spoke with Googles “semicolon tattoo when they get home. Maybe they’ll be inspired to take up the cause themselves.

If you are moved to do so, I encourage you to donate to one or more of these worthy organizations: