By Nicole Minarik
Jeremy Blackman’s shirt choice has the sole purpose of showing support and raising awareness during National Suicide Prevention Month.
Blackman, 46, is a Fort Wayne native and hair stylist at 6002 The Salon at Professional Village. He makes connections and talks with over 100 people each month. On Sunday afternoon, he made a new connection and shared the story behind his shirt.
Blackman’s shirt is grey with an outline of the state of Indiana in a green, white and blue combination. The imagery and coloring inside the outline are what could be described as galaxy with the purple, green and splashes of white. Also inside the state outline is a large semicolon with the words Hoosier Buddy Project.
“The representation of the semi colon is why I wear it. It means something in my group of family and friends,” Blackman said.
According to the Project Semicolon website, the symbolic meaning of the semicolon is to show support for those that suffer from mental health issues, have attempted suicide, or have lost a loved one to suicide. Survivors have embraced the symbol as a reminder that their story is not over but a pause before continuing with their story.
Blackman explained that this is just one of several shirts he wears to show support to those who have lost loved ones to suicide or attempted suicide. It is a purposeful thought because September is National Suicide Prevention month.
“Many of our family members have been affected by it,” Blackman said.
Blackman and his wife attended the 2019 Breastfest at the Fortlandia Brewing Company in Fort Wayne. The event is held to raise awareness and funds to help fight breast cancer. His wife, Emily, is a breast cancer survivor.
“My wife and I go every year to the event to try new beers and donate to a good cause,” Blackman said.
That year the Hoosier Buddy Project group also participated in Breastfest. The Hoosier Buddy Project is an Indiana-based suicide prevention program. According to the organization’s Facebook page, they are a group of Indiana brewers that come together to make beers, form support groups, talk about suicide, and help fund existing non-profit groups.
Blackman’s wife is the one who purchased the shirt at the fundraising event. She wanted to add to his collection of meaningful shirts that raise awareness.
IN.gov says Indiana’s suicide rate has been higher than the national suicide rate since 2000. In addition, around 1,000 Hoosiers are lost to suicide every year and have been since 2016.
For more information on the Hoosier Buddy Project, go to their Facebook page: Hoosier Buddy.
For more information or resources on Project Semicolon, go to: www.projectsemicolon.com.