I only met Amy Bleuel once. She was infectious to say the least. We both attended a community education forum and shared our mutual passion for suicide prevention. Like me, she gave and welcomed hugs from those she’d only just met, which was our last act before our brief encounter ended. Sadly, her bright friendly smile and the light of life that touched so many others, burnout out on March 23rd, 2017.
It is in the wake of Amy’s passing that I am reminded that those who dedicate their lives to spreading hope and love, and encourage others to continue on… can fall victim to their pain.
For Amy, she was no exception, nor were the other 120 individuals (121 people on average die by suicide in the US each day) who, like Amy, lost their battle to a psychological pain they were no longer able to endure. On this day, they each ended their suffering in the only way they knew how.
Who was Amy Bleuel?
Amy was an inspiration to many and the founder of Project Semicolon. She resided with her husband in Green Bay at the time of her death. She hoped to change the world by encouraging anyone devoid of hope that light will once again come into their life.
In April 2013, Bleuel gave life to her movement when she took to social media with an idea. The idea was anyone who ever struggled with a mental illness would draw a semicolon on their wrist and post a photo. A semicolon symbolized that a sentence wasn’t over yet, and neither was their life.
Since then, it’s estimated that millions have shared photos of semicolons, many tattooed permanently on their body, as part of a burgeoning effort to erase the shame and stigma associated with mental health.
A Lesson for the Living
There is no doubt that Amy had a huge heart and an inspiring and encouraging message for the world. Her message of hope must not die with her, but we must learn from it.
No matter how loving you are, how great your desire to help others, or how knowledgeable you may be about suicide, you should embrace the fact that no one (not even you) can fight off your psychological pain alone.
When it comes to individuals in a leadership position, you many feel alone more frequently than most. You may also feel the need to keep up appearances that may prevent you from seeking, or even acknowledging, the help you need.
We do know Amy was not immune to this truth. In an interview with Under The Labels, on July 13, 2016, she stated:
…people don’t feel that I’m fit to do it. A lot of people say that I’m not mentally stable enough to run a project with this impact . . . and that definitely affects the work and what we’re trying to do because we’re being seen as not good enough or “normal enough” to lead.
We will never know what demons got to Amy in the end, but we can take some time to understand our own and find the support we may need to save our life. We should also look at those around us and be certain they are also ok – not just presenting a polished appearance to the outside world.
There is Help
Despite her internal struggles, Amy continued to focus outward and help others. I am deeply saddened by her passing and every life lost to suicide. Amy’s death is a reminder that no one is immune and we all must remain vigilant and use our voice when we become concerned (for ourselves or another person).
It is also a reminder that no matter our level of “expertise,” we may not be able to battle our pain alone.
Amy Bleuel – Your Wish is My Command
In the same interview with Under The Labels mentioned above, Amy stated, “I want Project Semicolon to inspire people long after I’m gone and I want it to go wherever it can go and wherever it is held with the integrity, love, and hope that it was founded on.”
I am inspired by your mission, Amy, and will honor your life through my continued focus on awareness, education, and support for the prevention of suicide attempt and loss. You are Loved & Missed.