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