“Your story isn’t over yet.”
Just recently, the Project Semicolon has become famous online along with this inspiring tagline. But this is not just a trend splashed over the internet – it is a heartfelt advocacy.
The Project Semicolon is a “faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.”
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence [with a period], but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life,” they wrote in their website. To show their support, some advocates from all over the world tattooed their skin with a semi-colon (;), giving hope and inspiration to struggling individuals who think of ending their lives.
Cases of suicide are evident especially among teenagers. Data collected from the National Statistics Office show that in the Philippines, from 1984 to 2005, there is an increase in the number of suicide cases involving the youth aged 24 years old and below. Just recently, coincidentally along with the emergence of the Project Semicolon, the news about young actress Julie Buencamino was released. She was just 15 when she ended her life.
In Ateneo de Davao, it cannot be denied that there are students struggling with depression which usually culminates to suicidal thoughts – students who might be struggling emotionally even while they are inside the university.
Jane [not her real name], a third year student of Ateneo, was among those students. She revealed how she had tried self-cutting and some forms of self-harms during several depressive episodes in her life.
“Depression is like being trapped in my own horrible and abusive mind which constantly beats me up mentally and emotionally, and self-harming was my only escape route,” she mentioned.
She also said that as a college student, it is very hard for her because she had to constantly fight her depression.
“It’s like having a war against my academics and personal life’s issues. I sometimes get to the point of killing myself. I can’t sleep at most nights. It’s horridly not easy,” she said.
At present, she is still doing her best to win her struggle against depression.
In his statement in an article on philstar.com, psychologist Randy Dellosa stated that “Teens commit suicide because they feel extremely lonely, desperate and helpless.”
He also added that teens usually give warning signs about their suicidal thoughts. This could be of several forms: from poems to social media posts to several morbid artworks.
Social media and suicide among teens also have important relationship, for young adults spend most of their time on the worldwide web. A study from PubMed Central revealed that there is an increasing evidence that social media can influence suicidal-related behavior. The social media can become an avenue for bullying, threats, humiliations and other acts that might emotionally trigger someone to committing suicide.
On the other hand, social media can also prevent suicide like how it triggers it. Warning signs about teenagers’ suicidal thoughts can possibly be noticed on their tweets, Facebook posts, or blogs. This tells if they are in need of psychological assistance. Further, it can establish social connections among peers who can offer support to suicidal teens. Some groups devoted to suicide prevention also use social media to amplify advocacy efforts. Project Semicolon, for instance, became famous when netizens started posting their semicolon tattoos photos on Twitter.
What other things can be done to prevent suicide?
“The most important and immediate stance to take when dealing with a depressed individual and is contemplating suicide, is to take that person seriously,” Dr. Rene M. Samaniego wrote in his article in Philippines Psychiatric Association website.
“Suicide is a serious psychiatric emergency. As an alternative, just get across the message of concern as well as the willingness to provide assistance in seeking immediate help from a health care professional, which is an immediate necessity.”
In the campus, the University Guidance Office conducts one-on-one counseling to listen to students’ concerns and help them cope up with their struggles – a reminder that the university provides an avenue for students who are struggling emotionally.
Undeniably, suicide among teens is seemingly becoming widespread. For one could sit comfortably in a Math class, and while it could be oblivious for others, can actually already be calculating the angles of his death. One could post statuses on Facebook and others might not recognize the loneliness and depression that those words were crafted from. But it is never too late to listen and to help. It is never too late to raise awareness.
It is never too late to remind teens that they are the authors of their own semicolons, and there are more and more sentences yet to be written.