Founder of Project Semicolon, Amy Bleuel, Dies

Semicolon key springing up from keyboardAmy Bleuel, the mental health advocate who founded global nonprofit Project Semicolon, died at age 31 last month. The cause of death was suicide.

Amy Bleuel and Project Semicolon

Bleuel founded Project Semicolon in 2013 to honor her father, who died by suicide. The project uses a semicolon to symbolize remaining alive through difficult times. Just as a semicolon denotes a pause in—rather than an end to—a sentence, the semicolon symbolizes moving forward rather than stopping. Many people who embrace the semicolon symbol say they see their lives as unfinished stories.

The semicolon quickly caught on as an international symbol of hope. Semicolon tattoos and art became a way to signal triumph in the face of suicidal thoughts and mental health issues.

Bleuel experienced mental health issues, including depression, for two decades. According to the Project Semicolon website, she also dealt with bullying, rape, self-harm, and mental health stigma.

Project Semicolon actively solicits stories of hope and triumph to encourage people who have faced similar obstacles to persist, seek help, and support one another.

Suicide as a Public Health Issue

Suicide rates climbed to a 30-year high in 2014. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide and the leading cause of death among people ages 10-24. While a variety of factors often contribute to suicide, many people who die by suicide meet diagnostic criteria for at least one mental health condition.

Men are significantly more likely than women to die by suicide. Middle-aged men experienced a 42% increase in suicide between 1999 and 2014.

Suicide is preventable, and Project Semicolon advises people to notice warning signs and take suicide threats seriously. For help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline also offers a live chat feature here.

To support Project Semicolon, get help, or share your story, visit the Project Semicolon website.

References:

  1. Curtin, S., MA, Warner, M., PhD, & Hedegaard, H., MD, MSPH. (2016, April 22). Increase in suicide in the United States, 1999-2014. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db241.htm
  2. Facts about mental illness and suicide. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://depts.washington.edu/mhreport/facts_suicide.php
  3. Obituary for Amy Bleuel. (2017, March 24). Retrieved from http://www.pfotenhauerfuneralhome.com/m/?p=memorial&id=1943951
  4. Our founder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://projectsemicolon.com/our-founder/
  5. Suicide prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://projectsemicolon.com/suicide-prevention/

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  • Harold

    Harold

    April 5th, 2017 at 5:28 PM

    She died. You say the cause was suicide, but it was broader than that. The cause was our attitudes toward depression, towards mental illnesses. Until we reform , we have some of the responsibility for her death.

  • gofarza

    gofarza

    April 6th, 2017 at 11:54 AM

    I’m not responsible for her death.

  • Simone

    Simone

    April 7th, 2017 at 10:02 AM

    I find that society in general has no notion of being responsible for anything until it hits them in their own personal lives. Yes collectively I think that we are all responsible because the subject of suicide remains taboo and no one wants to acknowledge that we are losing far too many good people to it. We have to be committed to stand up and demand that more be done to protect the health care rights of every citizen, not just those with the fund and access. This has to be accessible and available to all those who need it, and if we don’t begin to speak up for those who can’t, then who will?

  • Cordelia

    Cordelia

    May 15th, 2017 at 12:33 AM

    It is true that we need to stop being afraid of talking about hopelessness, the pains that separate and isolate people, and suicide. HOWEVER, life is a choice. Each person has to choose whether they are going to continue to live or not. If a person kills themselves, they die because of their choice to do so. I, nor anyone else, is responsible for another person’s choice.

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