A permanent reminder; Hiawatha tattoo parlor to raise funds for suicide prevention, awareness

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HIAWATHA — Suicide has not affected Dan Abbott more than it has this past year.

He lost a good friend earlier this year to suicide, and a cousin not long after. Another good friend’s suicide attempt failed, and he now faces a long road of recovery.

“It tears me up,” Abbott said. “My friends have left families behind, my friends have left kids behind, they left behind jobs, they left behind great lives.”

So Abbott, owner of Insidious Ink Tattoos, has decided to use his business to promote suicide awareness. In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sunday, his Hiawatha-based tattoo parlor will be offering semicolon tattoos from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All proceeds, save for $5 in supplies per tattoo, will be donated to Foundation 2 for their suicide prevention. Abbott said the semicolon tattoo will cost about $50, depending on the design chosen.

“It’s not about making money that day, it’s about getting people to recognize the charitable organization we’re benefiting,” Abbott said.

Elisabeth Kissling, developing and marketing coordinator for Foundation 2, said the proceeds most likely will go toward the statewide organization Crisis Center, a Cedar Rapids-based 24-hour telephone line for those in crisis.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention estimates more than 44,000 Americans die each year by committing suicide.

In fiscal year 2016, the Foundation 2 crisis phone was contacted by more than 24,000 individuals in crisis, according to the organization’s annual report. In fiscal year 2017, Kissling said the organization had 2,744 crisis calls or other crisis outreach contacts with those who had thoughts of suicide.

The semicolon tattoo has gained attention across the country in recent years. Project Semicolon, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention, says the semicolon represents the continuation of the sentence, rather than ending it with a period.

“It’s a symbol that your story continues and that you chose how you want to keep your story going,” Kissling said.

Abbott said he hopes to make this weekend’s event an annual fundraiser.

“I hope we can — not only in the world of suicide awareness, but in the tattoo world — continue this,” Abbott said. “I want to see every tattoo shop in Cedar Rapids do this.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

If You Go

• What: Semicolon tattoos in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day

• Where: Insidious Ink Tattoos, 330 E. Blairs Ferry Road, Hiawatha

• When: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday

• Cost: Cost depends on the individual design chosen. Most of the proceeds will be donated to Foundation 2

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