Amy Bleuel made it her life mission to increase awareness about mental health disorders.
Founder of Project Semicolon, Amy Elizabeth Bleuel, committed suicide on March 23rd. The semicolon, according to Amy, signified continuation. This reference, she said, came from literature, when an author could end a sentence but instead chooses to go on.
“Your story isn’t over” reminds Project Semicolon, founded in 2013. Those who suffer from clinical depression battle with profound feelings of hopelessness. The project focuses on eliminating the stigma attached to mental illness, suicide attempts, and self-harm— reminding us that 1 in 5 people suffer from mental illness.
“I wanted to start a conversation that can’t be stopped,” said Amy, “and I believe I’ve done that.”
Project Semicolon features a dynamic website with resources for those experiencing suicidal thoughts, trauma, anxiety, depression, bipolar, borderline personality, eating disorders, dissociative disorder and addiction. It also has information for those with loved ones experiencing these conditions, and discusses how to approach the subject and ultimately help those in need. The project has reached thousands of people, and many shown their support by posting pictures of semicolon tattoos they have as a reminder to go on.
Amy died at age 31. She was survived by her husband, David, and a large family of brothers, sisters, and relatives. She loved traveling and had earned a degree in graphic design. She did not live an easy life, and experienced many hardships since childhood. Regardless of how painful, it is important that her story is told.
After her parents divorced at age six, Amy was physically abused by a stepmother, resulting in her removal by social services. From ages 8 until her release at age 18, Amy lived in institutions and foster homes. She suffered sexual abuse and a miscarriage. She started self-harming and developed alcoholism. In 2003, her father committed suicide.
“People want to know they’re not suffering in silence, you feel alone like no one cares, to know someone is there, that is what these people go forth with, they take this energy to better themselves,” Bleuel said in an interview. “I think it’s just opening the minds of society. I would hope through my stories and platforms that they would see these are everyday people, just like you, and they’re attempting to make their lives better, but here is what they struggle with.”
HaperCollins will publish a book entitled Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over on September 5th of this year. The book will be a collection of stories and pictures shared among the Project Semicolon online community. You can read Amy’s obituary here.