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Photo by Zahra Ali.

Photo by Zahra Ali.

By Zahra Ali, Plainfield North

Every 12.95 minutes, an American commits suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. But the lives lost are more than forgettable statistics. They represent an arduous struggle, a grueling challenge that looms over suicidal individuals on a daily level.

As September, which is Suicide Awareness Month, comes to a close, it is critical to continue to take action in preventing suicide, self-harm, depression and other self-image disorders. One movement in particular gained attention in striving to lower global suicide rates. Its name is Project Semicolon.

Taking off in 2013, Project Semicolon was created by Amy Bleuel in the hopes of raising awareness for suicide, addiction, and mental illness. The semicolon represents the continuation of life even through difficulty; that rather than end his/her life, a person can choose to pause briefly and continue. Supporters often draw or tattoo a semicolon on their wrists.

Through the expansion of the project, Bleul hopes to live in a world where self-image disorders can be openly discussed as critical issues.

“I’m hoping to start a conversation that doesn’t stop,” said Bleuel in a phone interview to The Kansas City Star.

Critics of the movement argue that such projects create a ‘victim mentality’ in regards to mental health. Their concern holds validity to an extent, but fails to acknowledge an issue far worse than self-diagnosis: denial.

Uninformed people can be found spouting outrageous notions that disorders such as depression or anxiety are easily adjustable moods or attitudes. Though most disorders are medically treatable, a greater treatment stems from increasing genuine compassion for each other on a human level.

The purpose of Suicide Awareness Month is to carry on its ideals throughout the year. Without a doubt, suicide prevention unifies society to obliterate barriers and cherish every ounce of self-worth. It inspires resilience, and begins with basic universal concepts: understanding, sincerity, and unconditional support.

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