Minnesota tattoo artists raise awareness for mental health

Mar 9, 2019
MPR News

A line of people snaked up the stairs from the Cream City Tattoo counter and nearly out the door one recent morning, as dozens waited for their semicolon tattoos.

Teresa Nelson got the word “smile” with a semicolon in place of the “I.”

“It’s simple. It has a lot of meaning behind it. And every year it’s more relevant, unfortunately,” Nelson said. She works at a school about 30 miles from St. Cloud where she’s seen students struggle with mental illness and suicide.

The semicolon has become a symbol of resilience for people facing or impacted by mental illness, the St. Cloud Times reported. A semicolon tattoo can be a permanent reminder not to give up.

Cream City Tattoo has hosted several similar events, said owner Ryan Schepp. It allows the artists to take a few days for small tattoos, promote suicide awareness and raise money for nonprofit The Beautiful Mind Project, which provides urgent mental health care and combats the stigma of mental illness.

“They’ve been a huge supporter of our organization and mental health,” said Marc Van Herr, executive director of The Beautiful Mind Project, about Cream City Tattoo. “This is one of the biggest (events) they’ve done yet.”