A nationwide movement to bring a voice to those suffering in silence from mental illness, substance abuse and suicide has come to Wyoming.
The idea is called Project Semicolon.
A semicolon is used when an author could have ended a sentence with a period, but didn’t. Simply put, you are the author - and your life is the sentence.
The semicolon is a reminder to pause, breathe and keep going.
Some 5,500 semicolon pins have been distributed across the state in a partnership between the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming and the Wyoming Department of Health to not only show support for those suffering in silence – but to begin a healthy conversation to these very tangible issues in Wyoming. And anyone can wear this pin to express their support.
“We want to see those semicolon pins on people from all walks of life, to help break down that barrier of people feeling like they have to be a mental health professional to show that they care about the well-being of the people around them,” said Karen Sylvester, a community prevention professional who works in Greybull. “Not only do we want people to express their support – but we want to open up an honest conversation about suicide, mental health and addiction.
“Together, we can help achieve lower suicide rates in Wyoming.”
Historically, Wyoming ranks among the top five states with the highest per-capita deaths by suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. – and 90 percent of all people who die by suicide experience some form of mental illness.
“Now is the time to start a dialogue about mental health, it’s just so important to do so,” said Thom Gabrukiewicz, director of marketing and communications for the PMO. “We are trying to create a visible demonstration of awareness and support for those struggling with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues, and suicidality.
“Giving people this semicolon pin is a way that they can show that they care - a tangible way to demonstrate that, and thereby making that support more visible to those that really need to see it,” Gabrukiewicz added.
Wyoming’s efforts follow from Project Semicolon (projectsemicolon.org), a national movement that started in 2013 to raise mental health awareness through semicolon tattoos.
To get a semicolon pin and show your support, contact the PMO’s community prevention professional in your county. In Fremont County, that’s Kelly Rees or Michelle Widmayer, who can be reached at (307)463-0622 or firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate crisis, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. Also, be a source of hope. For mental health resources in all 23 Wyoming counties, visit pmowyo.org – and look for the semicolon on the top right of the webpage.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Karen Sylvester, (307) 272-8503 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Thom Gabrukiewicz, (307) 684-7933 and email@example.com
For more information about the PMO and its statewide prevention efforts surrounding alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, suicide and chronic disease, visitpmowyo.org.