This year has been difficult for just about everyone, and many are struggling with mental health.
Hatter Falefitu Taefu is no different.
The tattoo artist has been dealing with mental health struggles for most of his life. He says with a few people he knows, and several he doesn’t, having died from suicide this summer, it’s something he wanted to bring awareness to.
Taefu is hosting a free semicolon tattoo event today at Gas City Tattoos. People are able to get a semicolon tattooed on their body and are asked to make a donation to the Canadian Mental Health Association if they can.
“I just wanted to give back to the community after hearing about people who have lost their loved ones in the city to suicide,” he said. “I’m going to be donating my time and supplies today and we’re asking people to make a small donation to the Mental Health Association if they can.”
The semicolon has become an important symbol with regard to mental health. It is used by writers to pause and then continue a sentence, rather than ending it. The tattoo indicates you are the author; the sentence is life.
“We want people to know that this is not the end of their story and that better days are coming,” he said.
The event is starting at 10 a.m. and does not have a finishing time. It will run on a first-come, first-served basis.
“I’ll go into the night if there’s enough people,” said Taefu. “We’ll go until there’s no more people lined up.”
Taefu will not be accepting custom designs or orders during the event.
“We’re going to be doing the semicolon tomorrow — we’re going to keep it nice and simple,” he said. “This is about mental health and giving back to the community.”
Taefu says mental health struggles have impacted his life, which is why it’s an important time to give back.
“Mental health is a really touchy subject for us men,” he said. “Society expects us men to always be strong and quiet about mental health issues. It’s just not a subject that’s really talked about.
“I have PTSD, anxiety, and depression from trauma and suicide has crossed my mind before.
“Guys out there, brothers, just need someone to talk to. We need to talk about this. We need to know it’s not weak to talk about mental health struggles.”
Because of COVID-19, there will be only one person allowed in the building at a time. People are asked to line up outside of the building and to keep their distance from others as best they can. A mask is required to be worn during the actual tattooing.
Taefu’s wife will also be on hand to help organize the line and hand out waiver forms.
Gas City Tattoos is located at 955 S. Railway St.
Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News