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Semicolon Tattoo Meaning, Ideas, and Pictures

Learn about what semicolon tattoos mean and check out some of the creative designs people incorporate them into.

Learn about what semicolon tattoos mean and check out some of the creative designs people incorporate them into.

What Do Semicolon Tattoos Mean?

A semicolon tattoo, usually worn on the wrist, represents someone who could have ended their life but chose not to. It symbolizes the wearer's fight against suicide, depression, and other mental health issues, and it affirms their determination to keep on living in the face of adversity. A semicolon tattoo means "my story is not over yet."

How Did the Semicolon Tattoo Trend Begin?

The idea of a semicolon tattoo went viral when 18-year-old Amy Bleuel got one to honor her father, who had committed suicide. She herself was battling depression, and she launched Project Semicolon in 2013 to support others struggling depression, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm. The organization is faith-based but welcomes everyone regardless of religious denomination. It has helped 5.7 million people and counting since it's been established.

Additional Meanings: The semicolon tattoo is also used by people with Crohn’s disease or those who are associated with that community because part of their intestinal colon has to be removed to treat it, leaving them with only part of a colon and not a full one.

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.

— Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon

Semicolon Tattoo Symbolism

Overcoming hardship: The tattoo is a way to bring people who are struggling with depression and mental illnesses together and express solidarity. It represents the will to keep on fighting. It is empowering to see so many people with a desire to overcome obstacles big and small, and it inspires others to overcome their own obstacles. It's comforting to know you are not fighting alone.

Starting anew: A semicolon tattoo represents turning a new page, starting a new chapter, and restarting your life, even when you feel like you're at the end. It symbolizes the desire and ability to begin anew, go in a different direction, or find a different way.

Continuation: The semicolon also symbolizes a continuation of where you left off. Rather than ending your story, you have the power to continue and take it in a whole new direction. You can go further, deeper, bigger, and higher. It's your story, and you decide whether to end it or to keep on writing.

Popularity

Starting in 2014, tattoo shops around the nation reported an increasing number of people coming in to request semicolons.

There was another surge in popularity after the release of the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, based on the book by the same name written by Jay Asher. In one scene Clay, the protagonist, gets a semicolon tattoo to honor his dead friend Hannah, who committed suicide.

In real life, three people on the —including actor Selena Gomez—got semicolon tattoos to show solidarity.

13 Reasons Why cast and Selena Gomez with semicolon tattoos

13 Reasons Why cast and Selena Gomez with semicolon tattoos

Semicolon Tattoo Ideas

If you're thinking about getting this tattoo, you'll want to consider where it will go and how the semicolon will be incorporated into the overall design.

Placement

  • Most people get the semicolon tattoo on their wrist, a common area of the body used for self-harm.
  • Other popular placements include the ankle and behind the ear. These tattoos are often small and subtle, but some can be big and elaborate.
  • Other places to get a semicolon tattoo include the back of the neck, the ribcage, and the finger.

Design

While the most popular design is a simple black semicolon, many choose to get creative by replacing the period with a heart or adding other designs around it or as part of it, such as an arrow or butterfly wings.

You can choose to incorporate the following with your semicolon:

  • Music symbols
  • Religious symbols or bible verses
  • Words (L;ve On, My Story Goes On; L;ve, etc.)
  • A heart, cat, sun, flower, lotus, or butterfly
  • 3D, color, monochrome, sketch, etc.

Comments

Sunny Mendoza (author) from Morgan Hill on August 13, 2019:

Thank you for sharing your story, Brandon. That is a very sweet tribute to your father.

Brandon cort on August 07, 2019:

This is something that means worlds to me. I recently lost my father to suicide. 2 days after christmas.. He fought depression for a very long time, and i have as well.. We had my fathers remains cremated and this last fathers day i used a small bit of his ashes to mix into my sumi ink before i set a simple semicolon into my left hand. My old man was such a great person. I feel this was a good way to honor him as well as a reminder that his story doesnt have an ending and neither will mine;