The founder of a popular tattoo movement that gave comfort and meaning to the lives of people with mental health problems died Thursday by suicide.
If you’ve ever seen people with semicolon tattoos, Amy Bleuel, 31, likely inspired them. The late Green Bay, Wis., native, who struggled with self-injury, rape, and addiction, had a semicolon wrist tattoo in honor of her late father, who also died by suicide, when Bleuel was 18. She chose a semicolon, a punctuation mark that indicates a pause, to commemorate him, explaining to the Mighty in 2015, “In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on. We see it as you are the author, and your life is the sentence. You’re choosing to keep going.”
According to the Washington Post, Bleuel had two other semicolon tattoos: one for herself on her left arm and one on the back of her right leg for a friend. In 2013, Bleuel started a nonprofit called Project Semicolon with the following mission: “We are not a 24-hour help line, nor are we trained mental health professionals. Project Semicolon hopes to serve as an inspiration.” Bleuel also tweeted a call to action on social media for people to draw a semicolon on their wrists, which they continue to do today.
— Katie (@Katie_Next) March 31, 2017
— Noah Kinsey (@thenoahkinsey) March 30, 2017
Bleuel told the Mighty, “I grew with the project. I grew by seeking the proper treatment and medication. I have close mentors and friends that I can seek out when I need counsel. … But seeing people continue their stories because of my story, seeing how they overcome, it has allowed me to heal myself and further better myself.”
The biography on Project Semicolon’s Facebook page, reads in part, “Abandoned by her father at the age of 8, Amy tried to commit suicide over 25 times since the age of 13. She was abused in every way possible. … Through her experiences in life and struggle with mental illness she seeks to inspire both youth and adults to live a life of purpose. If you were to ask Amy what she envisions most for this world, she would respond in saying that she desires to see everyone to be the change they want to see in this world. Amy is living out just that with her life.”
Bleuel became a motivational speaker, spreading awareness about mental health issues. However, she was negatively affected by the high expectations her public role brought about and the harassment she received online, she told the Washington Post.
According to her memorial page, Bleuel loved photographing her travels with her husband of two years, David. And despite her personal troubles, she inspired her followers until the end of her life.
Don't hold on to yesterday in fear of tomorrow.
— Amy Bleuel (@BleuelImages) January 31, 2017
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Depression Is Now the Leading Cause of Illness and Disability Worldwide
- This Is What a Day in the Life of Someone With Depression Looks Like
- What It’s Really Like to Have Depression