Semicolons, suicide and solidarity

Out of the group of very supportive women I mentioned yesterday, there is one more. Diana* has been one of the most helpful both online and playing in person. She and her husband drive me to game gatherings often and I am grateful for it. Yesterday morning, she said that Amy, founder of the Semicolon Movement took her own life. She went on to say how it made her feel and asked me what I thought it meant for this or future movements.

We have a woman that created a suicide prevention and awareness movement with a grammatical concept. It’s based on the idea that a semicolon is where an author could have ended a sentence and chose not to; as authors of our own lives, our story is not over yet. This idea has brought people comfort, support, solidarity with others that struggle. It has brought people together, helped people show support when they did not know how. Amy’s passing leaves a lot of people with many different emotions. Sadness, helplessness, frustration and even anger.

None of these feelings are wrong. However you feel about Amy’s passing is valid. I do want people to understand, though, that her passing does not diminish the meaning behind the Semicolon Movement. It does not negate what the movement stands for. It does not take away the meaning of the tattoos and pictures that you see or that you have or that you created as a part of this.

I’m going to plagiarize myself a moment, some of this I wrote in a status yesterday on facebook. Amy did not end her story when she initially considered it. She continued on to write further chapters and to help many people in the process. Her story is over now and that is extremely sad, but she had those extra chapters. You still are the author of your own story and you still have chapters to write and her death does not change this.

One of my friends said, “what it says for the movement is that we need to keep moving on and supporting each other” and I know that she didn’t mean it the way I read it – however, I felt like she was saying that because of this one woman’s death we need to keep supporting each other. I know her better than this, however, responding emotionally, I said “i have a much different take on it in my mind because the death of one woman isn’t what means we need to keep pressing forward – the deaths of all of those we lost to suicide is why we need to press forward.” I stand by what I said, though.

I went on later to say “it is very sad and we do need to keep up every effort for suicide awareness and prevention but please know that it’s sad EVERY time… we can’t just think it’s sad when it’s a public figure. that won’t help anyone.” I stand by this, too. We have become a society that focuses on individuals rather than issues. When Robin Williams died there was an outpouring of support from and for the mental health community. When that boy in the hospital got the attention from the person behind the voice of Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony, there were pictures plastered on facebook of the pink pony and places where tattoo artists would donate proceeds from a tattoo of the character to help those suffering from bullying. I can not remember the last time I have seen anyone post a picture of Pinkie Pie, nor even talk of Robin Williams’ mental health.

When people stop thinking about the public figure that brought awareness to an issue, many times they also stop thinking about the issue. I hope that people who see others with semicolons continue to show support and increase awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. I hope that this movement does not fade out. Honestly, I was never enamored with it. I don’t have a semicolon tattoo, nor do I have any desire to get one. I respect those that do, though. I hope that people continue to show up for those that need the support and don’t let this movement or this issue fade to the back of their minds.

Amy’s death does not negate the good that she did in her life. Succumbing to her depression does not negate the awareness she brought to the world. There are so many reasons that people take their own lives, and honestly, part of what this does is show that even those that are trying so hard to create awareness, they are not immune. They need support as well… and honestly, sometimes even with all of the support one can handle, things can still take a turn. Please don’t let her death stain your view of suicide prevention efforts of this movement or any future ones. Please, find the people you know need support and just be there for them, not just today, but every chance you get forever… because mental health doesn’t fix itself in a day or a year. For many of us, it is lifelong and that is how long I hope you continue to be aware of and support those that struggle with suicidal thoughts and self harm.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

*Name changed because I forgot if I can use her real one.

Image: My friend Chloe’s gorgeous tattoo from just as she got it finished.