Amy Bleuel, the founder of the mental health nonprofit Project Semicolon and the woman behind the popular semicolon tattoo, passed away on March 23. According to the Mighty, her death has been ruled as a suicide. She was 31.
Bleuel started Project Semicolon after her father committed suicide. Bleuel hoped to turn the semicolon into a symbol that represented “the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide,” as well as the “will to continue on” during difficult times. Since then, supporters and mental health activists have used the semicolon as a sign of love and support in the face of mental illness, including dealing with addiction, bullying, depression, anxiety, and self-harm.
Over the years, Project Semicolon has grown significantly in size and impact. Today, it provides primers on mental illnesses and suicide prevention, as well as offers courses, mental health support guides, and guidelines for starting local chapters.
According to Project Semicolon’s founder page, Bleuel experienced hardships throughout her life, including bullying, suicide, addiction, abuse, and sexual assault. She turned to the project to give back to others who struggled with mental illness, fighting back against both the “stigmas associated” with it while also “giving hope to others struggling with mental illness.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention published an official statement in response to Bleuel’s death.
“Ms. Bleuel was a dedicated mental health advocate who devoted herself to raising awareness of mental health and the importance of reaching out when you need help. With her prolific semicolon campaign, she brought real awareness to an issue that is often misunderstood and can be complex in nature. Amy’s life was a testament that one person truly can make a difference. She had a powerful voice that gave others the confidence to speak openly about mental health.”
According to the Foundation’s statistics, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 44,193 Americans take their own life each year. 121 suicides happen on average in the U.S. per day, and the suicide rate has been steadily rising over the past 10 years.