Tattoo shop brings back semicolon tattoo event to promote suicide prevention, awareness

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HIAWATHA, Iowa (KCRG) - The possibilities are endless at a place like Insidious Ink Tattoo in Hiawatha.

Daniel Abbott, right, tattoos a semicolon on Jacob Folger at Insidious Ink Tattoo on Sept. 8, 2019. (MARY GREEN/KCRG)

But on Sunday, the special was the semicolon.

“People will ask you about your tattoos, and it’s a good conversation starter,” said Jacob Folger of Cedar Rapids, who stopped by Sunday afternoon with his wife and friends to get a semicolon tattoo.

The punctuation mark is commonly tattooed as a symbol for suicide awareness and mental health.

“I think, like everybody, we’ve all been touched by suicide at some point in our lives. I don’t think anybody doesn’t know somebody,” Folger said. “We’ve lost a few friends, and I thought it was a good cause.”

Foundation 2, a Cedar Rapids nonprofit organization that offers crisis support services, said suicide is currently the ninth leading cause of death across Iowa. The organization said it received 31,019 crisis phone calls in the fiscal year 2018.

Folger wasn’t the only person in the shop Sunday affected by suicide.

“I lost a cousin and a close friend of mine, and so it really hit home quite a bit,” Insidious Ink owner Daniel Abbott said.

This is the third year Abbott has held this event, which runs through Tuesday, at his Blairs Ferry Road shop.

Most semicolon tattoos cost $50 unless they’re more complicated designs, and 100% of that money goes to Foundation 2.

“They really do a fantastic job of helping the community and saving lives,” Abbott said.

As popular as this event has become over the years, Insidious Ink found itself a little short-staffed on Sunday, so other artists like Elizabeth Bousman of Mystic Tat2 in Cedar Rapids said they couldn’t say no when they were asked to help.

“Honestly, I think it touches so many people and in so many different ways,” she said.

While designs all featured the semicolon, Bousman said each person she worked with made it their own.

“The couple I did, we had lots of crosses incorporated in it,” she said. “There were arrows, which symbolize moving forward.”

Some people, like Folger, went straight to the point with a standalone semicolon.

As for pain, he said it was “not too bad,” but added that it would be worth it if it was.

“Yeah, absolutely,” he said.

Insidious Ink Tattoo is running this special through Tuesday, which is World Suicide Prevention Day. The shop will be open both Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. through 8 p.m., and people who want to get a semicolon tattoo can walk-in or make an appointment by calling 319-892-3369.

Insidious Ink isn't the only tattoo parlor helping the community this month. Mystic Tat2 in Cedar Rapids is offering poker-chip-sized, book-themed tattoos up through November.

The tattoos are $50, and the money they raise is going to the Dolly Parton Foundation Imagination Library at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. People interested in those tattoos can book an appointment by calling 319-981-8184.