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World Semicolon Day – April 16, 2023

World Semicolon Day, observed on April 16, can be related to the nonprofit organization ‘Project Semicolon’ which defines itself as being “dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury,” and “exists to encourage, love and inspire.” The leadership and membership of the organization are devoted to achieving lower suicide rates in the U.S. and all around the world. Although they are not themselves psychiatric professionals, nor are they trained in mental health, they help by recommending emergency contact helplines The movement also welcomes and embraces people holding different beliefs or religions.

History of World Semicolon Day

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community.” Mental health comprises subjective well-being, autonomy, competence, and self-actualization of an individual’s own intellectual and emotional acumen, among others. An individual’s ability to enjoy life and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience is also an indication of mental health.

In the mid-1800s, it was William Sweetser who first coined the term ‘mental hygiene,’ which is an antecedent to modern contemporary perspective on the promotion of positive mental health. Isaac Ray, former president and co-founder of the American Psychiatric Association, further defined mental hygiene as “the art of preserving the mind against all incidents and influences calculated to deteriorate its qualities, impair its energies, or derange its movements.”

In American history, it was believed that individuals with mental illness were being religiously punished. This belief carried on for most of the 18th century, along with the dehumanizing treatment of such individuals.

From 1840 to 1880, Dorothea Dix received the official backing of the federal government to institute over 30 state psychiatric hospitals. These hospitals would later be understaffed and rumored to violate human rights.

Clifford Whittingham Beers was a forerunner in the development of the ‘mental hygiene’ movement based on his own traumatic experience with mental health care. He went on to publish “A mind that Found Itself” in 1908.

World Semicolon Day timeline

1797
William Sweetser is Born

William Sweetser, the physician who first coined the term “mental hygiene,” is born.

1802
Dorothea Dix is Born

Dorothea Dix, who was at the forefront of the mental hygiene movement in the 1800s, is born.

2013
Project Semicolon is Created

Project Semicolon, a nonprofit organization that caters to mental health issues, is created by Amy Bleuel.

2016
First-Ever World Semicolon is Held

The first-ever World Semicolon Day is observed.

World Semicolon Day FAQs

What does Project Semicolon do?

Project Semicolon is a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury,” and “exists to encourage, love and inspire.” The leadership and membership of the organization are devoted to achieving lower suicide rates in the U.S. and all around the world.

When is World Semicolon Day?

World Semicolon Day is celebrated on April 16 every year.

Who founded Project Semicolon?

Project Semicolon was founded by Amy Bleuel in 2013, 10 years after her father committed suicide. Unfortunately, Bleuel herself would ultimately commit suicide in 2017.

How to Observe World Semicolon Day

  1. Check on a friend/loved one

    The idea of World Semicolon Day is to decrease the number of suicides. Perhaps you know someone who battles with mental health? Check in on them to see how they are doing. You might just save a life with that simple gesture.

  2. Educate others about positive mental health practices

    You can simply educate someone; a friend, child, colleague, or co-passenger. Share your knowledge about the importance of protecting our mental health and getting help where necessary.

  3. Post on Social Media

    Post mental health care tips, articles, infographics, etc, on your social media and engage others on ways to preserve their mental health. Be sure to use the #WorldSemiColonDay hashtag.

5 Harrowing Facts About Suicide

  1. It is the top cause of death

    Suicide is ranked number 10 for leading causes of death in the U.S.

  2. One suicide every 11 minutes

    An average of one person commits suicide every 11 minutes in the U.S.

  3. Women are more likely to commit suicide

    Studies show that women are three times more likely to commit suicide than men.

  4. Half of all suicides are firearm related

    According to statistics, half of all suicides in the U.S. are by firearm.

  5. Suicide can happen to anyone

    There is no specific demography for suicide.

Why World Semicolon Day is Important

  1. It’s an opportunity to reach out

    World Semicolon Day is an opportunity to reach out and spread hope to anyone who might feel like they don’t have an alternative way out of what they’re going through. See what you can do on this day to help.

  2. It encourages solidarity

    World Semicolon Day gives suicide survivors a platform through which to stand with one another in solidarity. This is one of the ways we can combat the problem.

  3. It’s a chance to create awareness

    World Semicolon Day helps bring about awareness regarding mental health issues and suicide. It also offers ways to manage and prevent these.

World Semicolon Day dates

YearDateDay
2023April 16Sunday
2024April 16Tuesday
2025April 16Wednesday
2026April 16Thursday
2027April 16Friday

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