Monday, June 21, 2021

Semicolons symbolize courage

Plattsburgh State students will have the chance to stand in solidarity with those who struggle with depression, thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

Students will be able to get $20 semicolon tattoos at Body Art Tattoo and Piercing at 14 Margaret St., Thursday, May 12. The tattoo parlor and Impeerium Peer Network, a local mental-health support agency, will host the event.

Impeerium Program Administrator Outreach Nicholas Dubay, the Clinton County suicide prevention team and several other local support groups organized this event, and it is their first time working together.

“Suicide is a very real thing that most people don’t talk about, but there’s a stigma attached to it,” Dubay said. “It affects our area as much as it affects the whole world.”

Dubay said the point is that people will ask what the semicolon tattoo means, and that opens the door for someone to talk about his or her struggles with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Dubay said students struggle with mental illness but may not always get the help they need.

“Students are exposed to depression and stress constantly, but when you’re able to vent and talk about how stressed you are it makes it better,” Dubay said.

PSUC human services and family relations major Ashley Hunsinger said she thought about getting a semicolon tattoo because of her personal struggles with mental illness, but she decided against it. She said she feels it has become a trend and would like to get a tattoo that is more personal and meaningful to her.

“I don’t feel like there is enough (mental-health) awareness on campus,” Hunsinger said. “There’s not enough talk on campus about destressers or how to be supportive of a friend going through it.”

PSUC criminal justice major Caitlin Dymond said people who struggle with mental illness should attend this event because it comforts and familiarizes them with others who are going through the same thing. Dymond said many misunderstand exactly what mental illness is, and there should be more education available on the subject.

“I don’t think there should be a negative stigma attached to mental illness,” PSUC communication disorders and sciences major Lizarie Feliciano said. “Helping yourself is something that needs to be done in order to have a healthy life.”

Dymond, Feliciano and Hunsinger have some ideas about how PSUC can help educate students and make them more aware about how to handle mental illness.

Hunsinger said she thinks personal accounts from people who have struggled with thoughts of suicide or attempted it can show students that suicide is not the answer, and they can also see that they can make it out of the dark.

Dubay said more than 1,000 people will come to the event, and maybe half will get tattoo. He said he didn’t expect that many people to be interested in the event, but he said many people on Facebook are interested in attending. He said he hopes to incorporate the PSUC campus more in the future.

Dymond said students should know, by a class or otherwise, they are loved and there are resources available to help.

“People can talk about their own experiences or what they’ve experienced with people close to them,” she said. “That way they don’t feel so alone.”

Email Markiesha Thompson at markiesha.thompson@cardinalpointsonline.com

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