Over the past few years, many people have gotten a semicolon tattoo placed on their bodies. While this tattoo may harbor different meanings to different people, they generally hold the same message.

The semicolon tattoo is symbolic and was started by a group known as Project Semicolon, which was a movement that began in 2013. According to the movement, their goal is dedicated to bringing hope and love to those who are “struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury.”

You might be asking yourself why they chose a semicolon, and their mission with the use of the semicolon is actually pretty interesting. They say, “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

Put simply, a semicolon tattoo shows our intention to continue living our lives, despite our obstacles. Additionally, it could be equated to our triumph over our minds.

I think a lot of times when we endure immense hardship, we may believe that things are damaged beyond repair, that they can never be good again. However, no matter how difficult our life gets, our current situation is never our final destination. And we always have the power to start over and write a new chapter in our lives.

When the movement started, around 43 million Americans were dealing with a mental illnesses. While mental illness is not uncommon, there is a stigma surrounding mental illness, which can ultimately block those who need treatment from seeking it.

Jenn Brown is a founder of the Semicolon Project and when speaking with Upworthy, she explains, “The tattoo is a conversation starter,” continuing she notes, “People ask what it is and we get to tell them the purpose.”

The project has also hosted events at tattoo shops in which people could get the semicolon tattoo for a special price, with much of the money going to crisis centers. Jenn and her partner Jeremy Jaramillo work at the Agora Crisis center, which is one of the oldest in the nation. Since starting the Semicolon project, they have helped many people through times of crisis.

So, the next time you see someone with a semicolon tattoo, you will know why. Personally, I think they are a pretty amazing way of recognizing our ability to transform our lives and move out of a dark place. Additionally, they shed light on the mental health crisis that is plaguing our nation and world.

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