It was 3:00am, late 2015. I was sitting on the bathroom floor of mine and Nikki’s room in the apartment we shared with Pam in Okemos. I was crying, holding my phone with both hands shaking, scrolling through google. The word in the search bar, highlighted in every found link, was “suicide”. I was trying to decide one way or the other what I wanted to do, trying to find something to push me one way or the other.
I found it.
An article about Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semicolon, explaining why she chose to get a tattoo of a semicolon.
In literary terms, she explained, the semicolon is used when the author could have ended the sentence, but chose not to. Instead of a period, a semicolon is used and the sentence continues. A perfect metaphor.
In her story, I found the courage to get up and wake Nikki. I started in the partial hospitalization program through Sparrow the next day and would get help there for the next two and a half weeks.
Today, I found out that Amy Bleuel died at 31, The Mighty confirming her death in an update as suicide.
All noise, all feeling fell away except for a grief impossible to express. It felt as though all the breath in my body had been stolen away, replaced with a sadness so profound I’m not sure I can ever forget. Like so many before her who brought light into the world, she was gone.
She wore a symbol of both her burden and her bravery on her skin, but she made a far bigger mark on the world. Project Semicolon encouraged a conversation about suicide and mental illness that had been so desperately needed. Her story gave way to millions like it and the world felt less lonely, less daunting. You started seeing semicolons everywhere. I painted a stone while I was in partial hospitalization to carry with me, its smooth surface and small weight a comfort when I was afraid.
I’ve never felt such a grief for someone I’ve never met, but I know I’m not alone in it. Thanks to Amy, there are many people today who may not have been here otherwise. I know I am one of those people.
If you need help, please use the resources I’m including here. Reach out to friends and family, even if you feel it is futile. You are worth living for, you are worthy of life and time and love.
The National Suicide Hotline provides an online chat service that is available 24/7 at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. You can also call them at 1-800-273-8255.
Another resource I appreciate greatly is 7cups.com, where you can talk to Listeners, people just like you and I who only want to listen and help people who are having a hard time.
And, of course, projectsemicolon.com, Amy’s own creation, where you can find resources and donate to provide resources to those in crisis.
I love each and every one of you.