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Semicolon Project brings mental health, suicide discussion to Wyoming


March 8, 2016

WORLAND — 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 call 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, according to a press release from the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming (PMOW).

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 PMOW 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.

Karen Sylvester, community prevention professional from Greybull, said, “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 they care about the well-being of the people around them. 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 United States and 90 percent of all people who die by suicide experience some form of mental illness.

Thom Gabrukiewicz, director or marketing and communications for the PMO said, “Now is the time to start a dialogue about mental health, it’s just so important not to do so. We are trying to create a visible demonstration of awareness and support for those struggling with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and suicidality.”

He added, “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 who really need to see it.”

Wyoming’s efforts follow from Project Semicolon (, a national movement that started in 2013 to raise mental health awareness through semicolon tattoos.

Sylvester said that Semicolon Project ties in well with the state’s other suicide prevention programs.

To get a semicolon pin and show your support, contact the PMOs community professional in your county. For Washakie County, contact Mary Buchanan at 307-347-2037 or

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate crisis, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For mental health resources in all 23 Wyoming counties, visit and look for the semicolon on the top right of the webpage.


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