Trigger warnings in this post: discussion of suicide, depression and anxiety.
April 16th is World Semicolon Day!
World Semicolon Day was started in 2016 by Project Semicolon to celebrate the individuals who have chosen, or who are still choosing every day, to keep going instead of ending their stories. It’s a day that acknowledges the courage, resilience and advocacy of survivors while raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.
My book THE SEMICOLON was inspired by the semicolon tattoos of mental health advocates. So, in honour of World Semicolon Day, I am donating 100% of April 2023 UK book royalties to Suicide Awareness and Prevention UK (SAPUK), a CIC nonprofit organization that offers free, one-to-one chat services and leads campaigns to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention, including an annual UK-wide semicolon tattoo campaign.
I chose this organization for a few reasons. First, on a personal level, I lost a family member in the UK last year, whose struggles with depression and anxiety contributed to his passing. Second, community building and stigma reduction are invaluable aspects of preventing suicide. Grassroots support networks can be life-saving, particularly given the massive gap between the number of people seeking mental healthcare treatment and those who actually receive it. The sheer dedication of SAPUK’s team to fill this gap is pretty incredible (seriously, check out their Facebook page).
The third reason is a little more complicated, as some folks might be wondering why I am choosing to donate proceeds to a CIC organization as opposed to a registered charity. The long and short of it is this: I don’t limit my support to registered charities when it comes to causes I care about. In countries like the UK and Canada, charities have restrictions on what they can do – which is great for accountability purposes, but also limiting in that oftentimes these organizations are restricted in the amount and type of advocacy they can undertake to address systemic issues that contribute to crises like suicide.
Quite simply, having worked in the nonprofit sector myself, I know how hard it is to raise funds for behind-the-scenes operational costs, like insurance, staff training, and website maintenance. I also know how exhausting it can be for individuals working or volunteering with these organizations to not only lack the resources they need to deliver their services (especially those free of charge!), but to even support their own teams in the process. This is all the more significant given the prevalence of burnout and the pressure that advocates and service providers often feel to keep going “at any cost.”
So, this World Semicolon Day, I’m proud to use proceeds from THE SEMICOLON to support fellow mental advocates in their life-saving work for others.