Project Semicolon started a fantastic global movement. You’ve all probably seen the semicolon tattoos and images around, and know that it’s SOMETHING to do with mental health. Here’s why: “The semicolon is used when a sentence could have ended, but didn’t.”
That’s really powerful stuff.
So powerful in fact that I immediately donated to their charity and shared their cause as often as I possibly could.
And it became a cool code that we could share with others who were in the know. Tattoos were popping up everywhere, and jewellery for those who couldn’t take a tattoo (hi there). More than anything, it was about spreading awareness for mental health, suicide prevention and combatting stigma.
Or so it was said.
Suddenly, we had this symbol, this unifier, this great, powerful icon of inspiration to keep living.
Let them explain more (emphasis mine):
PROJECT SEMICOLON’S MISSION
Within the belief that suicide is generally preventable, the mission of Project Semicolon is to help reduce the incidents of suicide in the world through connected community and greater access to information and resources. We believe that suicide prevention is the collective responsibility of each and every person on the planet.
And their slogan:
It’s not just a semicolon; it’s hope, it’s inspiration, it’s who. we. are.
Let that last one linger a moment.
It’s hope. It’s inspiration. It’s who. we. are.
It is. It has taken on so much meaning for so many people, myself included.
When I first set up my business, I started to make cross stitch kits with quotes on, and ones with semicolons on.
The semicolon ones don’t tend to sell that well, I’m not going to lie. I probably make about £30-£50 a year on them. BUT they help get me found by people who are my target audience, and I rely on the money I make from Etsy to prop me up so that I don’t have to work full time. I just can’t because of my MENTAL HEALTH problems.
Many others I know, in the creative circles, also are housebound, or aren’t able to work because of their MENTAL HEALTH problems. So they do what they can to earn a little bit of cash, and sometimes that is by working on things that are close to their heart. Like semicolons.
When I started my business, I went to great lengths to ensure that I was not breaching any copyright, intellectual property, and not implying I was in any way affiliated to the official charity. And I mean come on, nobody would trademark a punctuation mark …. right?!
Yeah so they did. Just recently.
I got my infringement warning this evening.
Now, as I said, I don’t make lots of money on these, but they pay for a car full of petrol over a year. They help me get found by others. And do you know what, the people who do buy them LOVE them. They MEAN something to them. They are a symbol of resistance to the SHIT THAT GETS YOU DOWN.
Well, Project Semicolon, you have gotten me down.
I understand that you don’t want people profiting off your idea. I do. But think about who these small scale attacks fundamentally and disproportionately affect. It’s people like me, too depressed to go to work full time who like to help people. It’s people like me who run small businesses and have time to do actual awareness-raising things. It’s people like me who CARE about mental health awareness. It’s not big businesses mass producing t-shirts. Take them down. Go for it.
I thought that we were all on the same team? Fighting stigma and helping people with suicidal feelings? I’ve worked so hard, and I have had a lot – A LOT – of positive feedback on how I am helping people. I felt like I was doing what you claimed to be trying to do. I thought we were allies in this. Together. Recognisable by our secret symbol from across the ponds. Collective community and all that?
It feels personal. It feels like you let me into this secret club. Allowed me to become attached to this movement. And then kicked me out.
It feels like you’ve actually gone and trademarked a piece of PUNCTUATION. It feels like you told me to think of it as part of me, of my own story, and then took it away from me. Made me afraid of using it. It feels like you’re focusing on small businesses. It feels like you’re honing in on the very people who you need to help, and stopping them from helping others.
I will take down my semi colon pieces.
But think about who the “enemy” is here.
Think about the end game.
What is the vision for the future?
Isn’t it exactly what we’re all aiming for?
So why are you being a ****?
Peace and love,
PS. I am sending this onto them so will let you know if I get any reply.