35 Tattoos From People Who Have Been Affected by Suicide


Suicide doesn’t touch people lightly. For both those who lose someone to suicide and those who have attempted themselves, the impact is profound. And often, these experiences overlap. Survivors of suicide loss are at higher risk of developing major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal behaviors themselves.

Some who have been affected by suicide get tattoos to commemorate suicide’s impact. We teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and asked people who were affected by suicide — both suicide loss survivors and those who’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts — to share with us tattoos they got in honor of their journeys.

Here’s what they shared with us: 

1. “A little over two years ago, I graduated high school. My dad came to visit my little brother and I for my graduation. A few days after my dad went back home, he died from suicide. For my graduation, my dad gave me a graduation card (the last card he ever gave me) telling me how proud he was of me. I took part of that card and had it tattooed on my arm in his handwriting. Even through all of his struggles, I get to look down at my arm every day and be reminded of how much he loved my brother and I.” — Gabrielle Ezell

Tattoo says: I love you very much! -Daddy

 

2. “I lost my husband a year ago to suicide. Soon after I and many of our family and friends starting seeing ladybugs. I believe he was visiting us. So I decided to get a semicolon with a ladybug incorporated on my left wrist to honor him and start conversations about suicide prevention and loss.” — Susan Pugh Travis

a semicolon with a ladybug as the period

 

3. “I lost a student to suicide in January and I myself have dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts at times. I had considered getting a semicolon tattoo in 2015 but never did it. After I lost my student I decided to finally get one. It combines four symbols: the semicolon for suicide awareness, infinity sign to represent that life goes on, two hearts to represent love and support, and it’s meant to look like a butterfly to represent hope and change.” — Brittany Marie

tattoo on wrist of an infinity sign with a semicolon in the middle

 

4. The first is to remind myself I am infinite and my story isn’t over.  The second is my mandala. When I was hospitalized, coloring them really helped take me out of crisis mode. I got one tattooed so that no matter where I am, I can color it if I’m in crisis or want to self harm..I have yet to color it! — Vicky Powelson

First tattoo (on her root) reads infinite. Second tattoo (on her leg) is a mandala

 

5. “I got mine for my mom. Almost 30 years ago she took her own life. The heart on the tattoo is her favorite color. I also decided to leave the heart open since my own heart hasn’t been whole since she passed.” — Kerry Vecchi

semi-colon and an incomplete heart

 

6. “I’ve survived two suicide attempts and years of anorexia and self-harming. I got this tattoo two years ago right over my self-harming scars to remind myself how far I’ve come and that my depression and past destructive behaviors do not define who I am. They are a part of me, but definitely not the only part.” — Melissa Lynott

tattoo reads: I am more than my scars

 

7. “My parents, siblings and I got semicolon tattoos in honor of my little brother who we lost a year ago due to bullying. It’s a reminder that he lives inside my heart and his story isn’t over.” — Angelica Wesener

semicolon and a heart

 

8. “This is a scar cover up I got. I’ve always viewed my depression as the Hulk inside of me that I have to struggle with everyday.” — Liz Catalano

tattoo on the hulk

9. “My daughter, Hailee Joy Lamberth died just two days after her 13th birthday. She was bullied at school. We have advocated in her honor since and in 2015 Nevada passed ‘Hailee’s Law‘ to help combat bullying.” — Jason Lamberth

chest tattoo that reads "Hailee Joy"

10. “This tattoo represents many things for me. But one of the birds is to represent my cousin Monica who we lost to suicide a little over a year ago. She was 16 and it was an incredible shock to all of us. And the quote “Still I Rise” from a poem by Maya Angelou is to remind myself I can get through anything.” — Danielle Frost

tattoo of a tree
11.I got the word warrior because I fight with these thoughts every day, and I survived a suicide attempt. The semicolon is in there because it symbolizes that my story isn’t over. I got it right there on my arm so I can see it clearly every day and remind myself to stay strong.” — Ashley Lake

tattoo reads "warrior"

12. “The quote ‘this too shall pass’ is a reminder that both good and bad will pass. So appreciate the good moments and don’t worry about the bad (suicidal thoughts were a big one for me). The quote is the stem of the flower, and the flower itself is a peony. It represents healing. Healing from depression. This arm is where I used to self harm, so I decided to put something beautiful over it. — Reshmi Chandra
  Quotes reads "This too shall pass"
13. “I lost my friend to suicide. This is her laugh converted in to sound waves. I will never forget her laugh and I loved hearing it so had it tattooed on my arm.” — Alison Brown
tattoo of sounds waves
14. “My personal reminder to keep breathing through my anxiety attacks and keep fighting my suicidal thoughts daily. My semicolon sun will keep shining and my story will keep on keeping on.” — Jairo David Mora
Man with a tattoo that says "keep breathing kid"
15. “I got this tattoo as a reward for being six months self-harm free. A serotonin molecule to remind myself my depression isn’t my fault. The word warrior because I battle for my mental health every day. and the semicolon in ‘warr;or,’ because I survived my suicidal thoughts and urges last year. It was the hardest moment of my life, but I admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital before I could act on the urges. It saved my life. I am 10 months self-harm free today.” — Borderline Heart
Tattoo says: warrior
16. “I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts for a long time and I’ve lost too many friends to mental illness and suicide. I was lucky enough to have a therapist who I adored. However, in one of life’s unexplainably cruel moments, she was diagnosed with cancer and died just three short months later at the age of 42. It was devastating. She also had a ‘live’ tattoo. Losing her made it that much harder to carry on, but I know it is what she wanted for herself and for me and I love having that reminder where I can see it regularly.” — Heather Blair
tattoo on wrist that reads: live
17. “I just got this tattoo a week ago. It has a semicolon that symbolizes my history with suicidal thoughts, and how I overcame them. ‘Different, not less’ reminds me that just because my brain functions in a different way that has rendered me disabled, I’m not less than anyone else. My struggle does not define me, but it is a part of me that I deal with day to day. This tattoo helps to remind me of that.” — JJ Jacobs
tattoo reads: different, not less
18. “Left tat: Hamsa tattoo often represents strength and power as it protects against the evil eye or negativity. Lotus flowers are known to symbolize that there’s beauty even in the darkest places. Right tat: the semicolon tattoo represents hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. The anchor stands for the times I’ve sunk down, while the balloon pulls me up. See, even though balloons weigh way less than anchors, if I allow it, my balloon should be strong enough to lift up the anchor. The ballon symbolizes resilience.”
wrist tattoos

19. “My daughter’s father passed away last October. We weren’t together at the time but I still loved him and always will. I got a tattoo of a quote from a letter he wrote me, in his handwriting. Every time I look at it I’m reminded of all the good times we had and the gorgeous little girl he gave me.” — Jadzia Dannelle Richlin
tattoo reads: I love you baby
20. “A quote from ‘Winnie the Pooh’ that has gotten me through the hardest days. It always reminds me I’ve gone through what seemed like the worst but survived.” — Jenny Dunlop
tattoo reads: braver than you think, stronger than you seem
21. “Two months after my suicide attempt I got this tattoo because of my love for the book ‘Impulse’ by Ellen Hopkins, in which paper airplanes are a reoccurring theme. For those who haven’t read it, ‘Impulse’ is about teenagers battling mental disorders in a psychiatric hospital. Both the book and this tattoo are my reminders that life goes on, and that sometimes you have to go back before you can fly forward.” — Lizz Thomas
tattoo of a paper airplane

22. “My best friend, Travis, lost his fight with depression almost three years ago. He doodled a picture of him and I on his desk calendar at work and I had it tattooed on my shoulder to remind me that he’s always with me.” — Tessa Gray

woman with a tattoo of 2 people on her sholder

23. “I lost my dad to suicide in January of this year. This is from my last birthday card from him last September. The note my dad left when he died was awful, so this is what I choose to remember as the words he left me with instead.” — Amy Prough

Tattoo reads: I love you dearly.

24.I always [struggled with] depression, and suicidal thoughts. When I was in high school a good friend of mine died and I realized I was blessed to have this life. So I decided to keep living for him.” — Melissa Renee Wilkerson

tattoo of a feather reads" love life"

25. “A few of mine have sentiments to me breaking free from anorexia and suicidal tendencies and dissociative identity disorder… this one represents transforming from bones back to beauty. After one very serious suicde attempt left me in a coma for three days, this is my way of reminding myself the seemingly impossible is in fact possible and I can do this.” – Charl Bradshaw

tattoo of a skeleton

26. “My younger cousin died suicide a little over three years ago. I got the semicolon tattoo for her and for me. I have episodes of minor depression myself, but it took losing someone close to me for me to look more into it and take it seriously. She’s the reason I’m going to school for counseling and therapy. I got the tattoo to open up a line of communication about mental illness and suicide, and to remind me about the person who made me want to be a part of the conversation.” — Sophie Kharmaine Anderson-Proctor

tattoo of a girl holding a balloon

27. “I lost hope after my brother took his live, but I found the Amerian Foundation for Suicide Prevention and have done the Out of the Darkness walks for the past five years. It always feels good to be with others who have had a similar experience and help fight suicide! The pain never goes completely away but over time I found some hope.” — Jennifer Brockway Cross

tattoo reads: hope

28. “I lost my mother to suicide when I was 16 years old. During her funeral as I tried to speak I started to cry. My minister put his hand on my shoulder. Then, I felt another on my other. As I felt this I looked over and saw no one, but I was able to calm down and finish what I had to say. I got this tattoo to remind me not only of my mother, who I miss, but to remind me no matter what happens in life I always have a guardian angel on my side.” — David Monson

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29. “The night I planned out my first suicide attempt, a few months after my fiance died by suicide, I was in a bar in NYC where I lived. I went out that night with my roommate because I didn’t want anything to seem ‘off.’ I went downstairs to use the bathroom. I came out of the stall and on one of the mirrors this was written: ‘Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. You have to keep loving, you have to keep fighting.’ I broke down in tears on the floor. I have no idea where it came from or who wrote it, but it prevented me from taking my life that night.” — Jamie Jager
two tattoos: One wrist says "keep moving" other other says "keep fighting."
30. “This is a passage from the classic book, ‘Jane Eyre.’ It was my mom’s favorite story. She died by suicide in 2011. ‘May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonized as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.’” — Lesley Haley Hudson
tattoo of a passage from Jane Eyre
31. “One year after my brothers suicide I chose this tattoo in memory of him. In Arabic it reads, “For every dark night, there’s a brighter day.” It’s something I wish he would’ve known in his darkest hour, and something that got me through my darkest hours following his suicide.” — Nicole Griffin-Thompson
tattoo in arabic
32. I used to cut myself, and after two years of being cut free, I got this tattoo in my little brother’s handwriting. From the song ‘Watch the Sky’ by Something Corporate (a band that inspired me to become a musician): ‘When you can’t bear to carry me, I’ll fight / you live the life you’re given with the storms outside / and some days all I do is watch the sky.’”

tattoo that reads watch the sky

33. “Three years ago I lost my cousin to suicide. It was a couple weeks before his 26th birthday. Nick was a phenomenal young man who had a passion for language, medicine, our country and his family. His death was sudden and extremely surprising. No one guessed this brilliant young man was hurting. I got this tattoo, a semicolon composed of leafs, in remembrance of him. He was a Buddhist and embraced nature. I want to end the stigma, spread awareness and by having a visible piece of art that inquires questions I am hoping to change even one person’s presumptions of suicide and mental health illness.” — Rachel Wilson

tattoo of falling leaves
34. “My brother wrote this poem when he was little. He took his own life on March 3, 2015 at 19 years old. The poem was hanging on a bulletin board of a hospital clinic where our son was being treated, and where my brother was treated fifteen years before. After he passed, the nurse mailed me the original poem.” — Ronni Davis Wells
right side: tattoo that reads -- I wonder what it missed. The right is a handwritten poem.
 35. “I got this little baby last Tuesday. It’s the handwriting of my favorite artist. I think the sentence quite explains it.” — Lindsay Bonnez
tattoo reads: "I am enough."

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


35 Tattoos From People Who Have Been Affected by Suicide
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