In the words of poet Miguel Hernández, “If it weren’t for… I don’t know what/ my heart would write one last note…/ and I’d say to the world, you stay here.” [Editor's note: He probably wrote this in Spanish.] He went on to survive the Spanish Civil War and imprisonment by a fascist government, and he never gave in to the life's darker pull; he held fast to hope in the face of heartbreak.
Today in Albuquerque, people will take on a symbol of hope and permanence that will never wash off. At King's Kreation tattoo shop, an estimated 150 people will partake in Albuquerque's first-ever semicolon event; it's a project aimed at advocating against suicide by tattooing a semicolon somewhere on the body.
Why a semicolon? It's an enigmatic punctuation mark, and it means a series of commas, a verbal pause—greater than a comma—approaching the pause after a period. It also denotes conjoined, related ideas. Poets are fond of semicolons because they allow for the splicing of childbirth with sunrise in a single thought. “I never thought that I would get a tattoo that couldn't be covered by a shirt. Then this project came along. The metaphor is beautiful," says event organizer Jonathan Cottrell. "I've been a grammar geek for my entire life, and to use punctuation symbolically is something I have just never thought of.”
I think a semicolon tattoo is brilliant symbol of solidarity. A suicidal person needs breathing room, but they also need to talk; it's a way to work the emotional slivers out. The best thing you can do for a suicidal loved one is to listen to them. Tattoos are permanent, sans lazer; so even if there's a long, sad pause, there is no separation.