WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Residents in Wilson County may notice a small new detail on law enforcement vehicles this month.

The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, Mt. Juliet Police Department and other law enforcement agencies and emergency services across Wilson County are marking their vehicles with a semicolon placed on the back.

The effort is an acknowledgement of National Suicide Prevention Month and that “no one’s story is over,” the sheriff’s office said. In literature, the semicolon is used when the author could have ended the sentence but kept on going.

(Courtesy: Mt. Juliet Police Department)

In recent years, the semicolon has become widely recognized as a metaphor for life and a symbol of hope for those suffering from depression and thoughts of suicide.

It was popularized by Amy Bleuel, who in April 2013, asked anyone who had struggled with a mental health issue to draw a semicolon on their wrist and post a photo on social media.

The idea was to inspire conversations about mental health and let people know they’re not alone, according to Project Semicolon, a nonprofit founded by Bleuel. Since then, millions have shared photos of semicolons both drawn and tattooed on their bodies.

(Courtesy: Wilson County Sheriff’s Office)

Suicide rates have been increasing in the U.S. since the COVID-19 pandemic, with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that the suicide rate hit an all-time high last year.

According to the CDC, there were 49,500 people who took their own lives in the U.S. in 2022 — more than at any time since the dawn of World War II. First responders may also be at an elevated risk because of the nature of their jobs.

Additional CDC data shows law enforcement officers and firefighters are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. In Mt. Juliet, the police department’s semicolon project is dedicated to two of their own, Officer Brittany Frazier and Officer Kevin Hensley.

Brittany Frazier_442512
Officer Brittany Frazier (Courtesy: Mt. Juliet Police Department)

In a statement following her passing in 2017, Mt. Juliet Police Chief James Hambrick said, “Brittany was a caring and outgoing woman, who was dedicated to serving the Mt. Juliet community, and her presence always brightened any room she walked into.”

The police department said in a social media video it hopes the semicolon project sends a message to the residents of Wilson County that they are not alone and encourages those struggling to reach out for help.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Line, formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, offers 24/7 calls, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal thoughts, as well as other types of mental health crises.

Counselors will listen, provide support and connect callers with resources if necessary. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. To learn more about suicide prevention and available resources, click here.