The staff at the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline want you to join in on the fight against suicide by getting a tattoo of a semicolon at their event on Tuesday. It's a tattoo that one hotline supervisor says is often the sole exception-- even for people who don't have tattoos. No frills; just the punctuation mark itself.
“I can think of at least three people off the top of my head here at the hotline, where that is the only tattoo they have. They have their semicolon and it’s either under their wrist, somewhere really small, or kind of tucked under their arm," said Andrew Sheffield, phone room supervisor at the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Sheffield said he thinks that goes to show just how strong the semicolon tattoo's meaning often is.
“It’s a reminder for them kind of where they’ve been and how far they’ve come," said Sheffield.
The semicolon symbol has gained momentum recently as a metaphor for how one could have chosen to end their life, but how they instead chose not to; much like how the punctuation mark is used in a sentence.
“It just kinda makes sense, that with such personal and sensitive issue, that people kind of put it as a reminder on their body," said Sheffield.
It's also often intended to remind others that they're not alone. And sadly, they're not. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports that Idaho had the 8th highest suicide rate in the country in 2016.
Sheffield said Tuesday's event comes with an important purpose: "Anything that gets the conversation going to try to remove the stigma from suicide and change the views that have been carried with it for so long."
At $40 per tattoo, hotline staff are hoping the public will join them to help them to commemorate on Tuesday-- which just so happens to also be World Suicide Prevention Day.
“We’d love as many people to come out as possible," said Sheffield.
Sheffield said half of the profits gained from the tattoos will go toward the supplies, and the other half will go to the hotline.
“To help pay for the services here at the hotline and help us keep going, it’s just one of the more— one of the more profitable events that helps us," said Sheffield.
The public event will take place this upcoming Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. at Resurrected Tattoo Shop on 610 N Orchard St.
Don't want a tattoo but still want to help? Visit this link to learn more on how you can support the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline's efforts.