You may be surprised to learn that a punctuation mark has a connection to suicide prevention, but the semicolon has become a powerful symbol in that regard. Here, we'd like to provide some context and explain why GripCity’s team chose the semicolon as the latest grip design for the soles of our socks.
What's the relationship between the semicolon and suicide prevention?
In the suicide prevention and mental health communities, the semicolon is understood as a symbol of hope and resilience. Like many symbols people wear on clothing or tattoo to their bodies, the semicolon is used to create connection and community among those affected by suicide and other mental health-related struggles. Echoing its function in the world of English grammar, which is to join two independent clauses, a semicolon represents the idea that life can go on after a traumatic event—it doesn’t have to end. To further extend the analogy, the semicolon helps remind those who struggle that there are alternatives to ending one’s life, i.e., putting a period where a semicolon ought to be.
How did the semicolon become a symbol for suicide prevention?
The semicolon became a powerful symbol of hope and solidarity in the fight against suicide thanks to Amy Bleuel, founder of The Semicolon Project. The project started in 2015 with a Facebook post posing a simple challenge—to draw the semicolon symbol somewhere visible on one’s body.
This request was intended to externalize one’s personal strength in living with and battling mental health issues, create community, and spark conversations around difficult topics.
The idea spread like wildfire. Millions around the world have since joined the cause through semicolon tattoos, artwork, literature, fundraising efforts, and more. The semicolon has also been adopted by groups that face trauma, substance abuse, eating disorders, addiction, and other forms of self-injury.
Why we put punctuation on our grip socks.
Nope, we’re not just grammar nerds. GripCity is a small, woman-owned business founded by mental health champion and suicide attempt survivor, Ariel Davis. Together with New York’s Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Center, GripCity helps provide “care kits,” which include grip socks and other resources, to New Yorkers who have been hospitalized for mental health crises.
Simply put, we chose the semicolon for our grip design because we couldn't think of a more tangible way to bring comfort to those who need it amid mental health challenges than with a pair of socks that hug your feet and remind you that you’re not alone.