I just learned that Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, lost her battle with depression on Thursday, March 23rd. She was 31 years old.
Project Semicolon is a faith-based non-profit that encourages and supports people with depression, addiction, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
In 2015, in an interview with The Mighty, Bleuel said, “In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on.” The semicolon represents the continuation of your life after struggling with thoughts of suicide and death, which are a common component of clinical depression. The organization writes on its website, “The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
"I started it [Project Semicolon] to honor my father," Bleuel told USA TODAY Network. "And to tell my story of my struggle with mental illness." Bleuel's father committed suicide in 2003. Ten years later, in 2013, she launched Project Semicolon. Its mission is to inspire and encourage people who live with mental health concerns, fostering hope and empowerment.
"I wanted to tell my story to inspire others to tell their story. I wanted to start a conversation that can't be stopped, a conversation about mental illness and suicide so we can address it and lower those rates," she said.
Since its beginning in 2013, Project Semicolon has gained worldwide attention and support, with the semicolon tattoo spreading in solidarity.
Project Semicolon does not offer a direct helpline, but instead brings those who are battling depression together through inspirational messages, blogs, and other resources.
Amy’s death is a tremendous loss but her mission lives on.
“Yes, Amy may have died by suicide. That is a risk for anyone who has survived a suicide death or attempt, like she had. It only makes her message more poignant and powerful. People in my field react with even more urgency to better understand suicide, and to innovate ways to save lives. I can understand why so many people in suicide prevention have a heavy heart today. I do, too. I’m going to be mindful, take good care of myself and others… and I’m going to keep my focus. On the day Amy died, another 120 people died from suicide, too. And each day it’s the same. My mission is to change that. A loss makes me fight harder to eliminate the blight of suicide in our communities. Amy’s mission lives on, even after her death, and it lives on in me, and thousands more.” — Dr. April Foreman, Licensed Psychologist and suicide prevention activist
Project Semicolon’s website states that 75% of suicide victims share their plans, 90% of suicides are diagnosable and treatable and 22 daily suicides are veterans of the U.S. Military.
The work that Amy started, the impact that she’s had on thousands of men and women must continue. Her story isn’t over. Her mission must live on.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.