On Thursday, March 23, 2017 Amy Bleuel, the creator of project semicolon died by suicide. For those who are not familiar with project semicolon, it is a movement where people wrote or tattooed a semicolon on their body as a way of reminding themselves that their story is not yet over. In 2015, Amy told The Mighty, “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.” Amy Bleuel’s semicolon project saved countless lives and brought a great amount of awareness to the issue of suicide.
If you are feeling suicidal, please see help. You can call the suicide prevention hotline at: 1-800-273-8255, or text “START” to 741-741.
I recently wrote about suicide, but did not include some very vital information. Namely, what are the warning signs of suicide and what can you do if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide.
Suicide Warning Signs:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Talking about suicide
- Giving away belongings
- Acting anxious, agitated, or recklessly
- Withdrawing from others
- Displaying extreme mood swings
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
What to do if you are feeling suicidal:
- Get out of the vicinity of the items you have chosen to use for suicide
- Don’t be alone, find someone to be with or go to a public location
- Call, text, or message a suicide helpline
- Call you mental health professional
- Call 911 or go to an emergency room
What to do if someone you know is thinking of suicide:
- Do not leave the person alone
- Remove dangerous items
- Encourage them to contact a suicide helpline or their mental health professional
- Get them to a hospital
- Call 911
As Amy Bleuel’s death highlights, suicide is not a joke. Suicide is a terrible reality that affects so many people. It is the second leading cause of death for those ages 15-34. Suicide among men in their fifties has risen 50% from 1999 to 2010. On April 22, 2016, the New York Times reported that the U.S. suicide rate was at a 30-year high.
Amy Bleul and the countless others who have died by suicide are not just statistics, they are people. Amy Bleul, thank you for all you did in your life. I know I will never look at a semicolon as simply a piece of punctuation again.