Amy Bleuel wanted to honor her father’s passing, after he died due to suicide. She settled on a potent symbol to help express the hope when a life is saved — the semicolon. It is a symbol of the perseverance that comes from grappling with mental illness.
Sadly, Bleuel lost her own battle with depression last Thursday, March 23. She was 31.
In 2015, Bleuel told The Mighty in an interview, “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.”
The hope shared by Project Semicolon’s founder is captured by the organization’s reminder, “Your story isn’t over.” The semicolon represents the continuation of your life after struggling with thoughts of suicide and death, which are a common component of clinical depression.
Bleuel hailed from Green Bay, Wisconsin, and started Semicolon Project in 2013, as a faith-based nonprofit organization. Its mission is to inspire and encourage people who live with mental health concerns, fostering hope and empowerment. The project was a strong testament to the significant impact a single person with vision and hope can have on others.
Bleuel’s own battle with depression began at an early age, when she was 8 years old, and included grappling with anxiety and self-harm. In addition to depression, she also lived through sexual assault and abuse growing up, contributing to a life-long battle with clinical depression.
As she wrote on the Project Semicolon website:
“Despite the wounds of a dark past I was able to rise from the ashes, proving that the best is yet to come. When my life was filled with the pain of rejection, bullying, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, I kept on fighting. I didn’t have a lot of people in my corner, but the ones I did have kept me going. In my 20 years of personally struggling with mental health I experienced many stigmas associated with it. Through the pain came inspiration and a deeper love for others. God wants us to love one another despite the label we wear. I do pray my story inspires others. Please remember there is hope for a better tomorrow.”
As a part of the project’s goal to help raise awareness of mental health concerns, people draw or tattoo semicolons on their bodies as a reminder to themselves (and a sign to others) that their story isn’t yet over. Since its inception, thousands of people around the world have donned a semicolon in support of the project.
You can learn more about and donate to Project Semicolon here.
From her obituary:
Amy graduated from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in December 2014 where she earned a degree in graphic design and a certificate in printing. Amy founded Project Semicolon. Her work following graduation was centered on raising awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention. She gave presentations on behalf of the Project to groups throughout the country.
Amy loved to travel. She and her husband especially enjoyed photography and photographing their many adventures together. She was an active member of Spring Lake Church in Green Bay.
Continue reading: Amy Elizabeth Bleuel’s Life Legacy
Leave your remembrances and condolences: Amy Bleuel on Legacy.com
Bleuel is one of those shining stars in life that reminds us that there is hope — even in our darkest hours. While her own candle has sadly been extinguished, she lit a thousand candles of hope for millions who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts.
May she rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and all those who mourn the loss of Amy.
If you’re suicidal, we recommend contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. You can also try one of these free crisis chat services:
Crisis Text Line (on your smartphone)