Getting something inked on your body which will last forever ain’t easy. Now, tattoos might mean different things to different people, but every tattoo has a significant story. 

Like the semicolon tattoo, with the only difference being that its meaning is universal.

You’ve probably come across a lot of people sporting it, and the story behind each of these people is a truly inspiring tale of fight and survival.

As a movement, it stands for all those who suffer from anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm and other mental health problems. The tattoo is to honour those who are going through it everyday, managing to survive every single day.


The semicolon as a character represents a pause. As the founder of Project Semicolon says,

A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.

The movement that started in 2013 had one simple idea: post photos of a semicolon drawn with markers. However, people decided to make it more permanent. The movement is now famous all over the world because of the simple sentiment: You survived.


Rahul (name changed on request), the head of a writing society in one of Delhi’s top colleges, has a semicolon on his middle finger. It’s an unusual spot, yes, but for him, it is an everyday reminder that he overcame the habit of harming his fingers with blades. He admits that coming out of the closet was tough for him, but living a double life was making everything even tougher. It drove him to self-harm and it is only now that looking at his tattoo makes him realize that it wasn’t the end of the world.

For Srishti, the tattoo tucked behind her ear helps remove stigma around mental health issues. She interprets it in a very different way. Her autistic brother finds it rather tough to be a part of any social gathering. And the social gatherings don’t make it easier either. The tattoo is a tribute to her brother’s struggles but it also acts as a conversation starter. She tries to make other people understand that her brother is just as normal as anyone else.

Getting a semicolon tattoo to begin with is a tough decision because it brings a lot of personal questions that you’re expected to answer given that many people are familiar with the movement. However, whenever you see a tattoo with this punctuation, remember what a young person suffering from bipolar disorder said: 

“The tattoo means different things to different people and that is the beauty of it. For me, it reminds me that I’ve been through a battle where my mind and body refused to make peace with each other. I couldn’t understand what was happening to my mind and the frustration lead to self-harm and ended up in a suicide attempt. I’m glad I didn’t succeed and the tattoo reminds me everyday that I survived.”


Each semicolon tells a different story but all of them mean the same thing: You survived!

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