One tattoo design that has grown in popularity in recent years due to groups such as Project Semicolon and Stop the 22 a Day is the IGY6 tattoo, often seen with a semicolon in front to make a ;IGY6 design.
If you’ve ever seen this tattoo and wondered what it meant, it’s a combination of multiple symbols to be an icon of PTSD and suicide awareness.
The semicolon as a tattoo design was started by Project Semicolon and symbolizes suicide awareness. When used in grammar, a semicolon is placed where the author could have chosen to end the sentence, but paused and decided to continue the thought instead.
As a tattoo, it symbolizes those people who are thinking of ending their life, but pause, reconsider, and decide to continue living instead.
IGY6 stands for “I got your 6,” which means “I got your back.” The phrase comes from the military use where 6 o’clock means behind you, or your back. The military base is intentional, as the tattoo is used for PTSD and veteran suicide awareness.
In summary, the ;IGY6 tattoo symbolizes a person who is there to help if you are thinking of ending your life, specifically due to PTSD but also for those who struggle with depression.
What does IGY6 mean?
The acronym IGY6 stands for “I got your 6,” a phrase that is used in the military to mean “I got your back.”
Military members use the clock to indicate direction. When something is in front of you, they tell you it’s at 12 o’clock. If something is to your left or right, they tell you it’s at 9 o’clock or 3 o’clock respectively. Finally, if something is behind you, it’s at 6 o’clock.
A military member telling you that they’ve got your 6 is a caring and protective phrase. They’re telling you that they’re watching behind you to protect from whatever may come that you can’t see.
This phrase has been used commonly with civilians as well, as the notion of being there and protecting someone is a trademark of any meaningful relationship.
When people get the ;IGY6 tattoo, though, they’re not just saying they’ve got the backs of their loved ones. It’s a symbol of support, love, and care for anyone struggling with PTSD, depression, or suicidal thoughts.
The tattoo is usually placed on the right arm, so when you shake hands with someone they can easily see it and know you’re there for them, even if you’re just meeting for the first time.
Why is there a semicolon in IGY6?
The organization Project Semicolon was created to increase suicide awareness and encourage those who are considering suicide to pause and choose to continue living.
Since the core of the IGY6 tattoo is to show support for those who have struggled or currently struggle with PTSD-related depression and suicidal thoughts, it makes sense to incorporate the semicolon as a part of that.
The semicolon added at the beginning, creating a ;IGY6 tattoo design, really helps send the clear message of this tattoo.
Is IGY6 only for military?
Although the ;IGY6 tattoo started with ties to the military and veteran PTSD, it applies to anyone suffering from PTSD, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
The phrase “I got your 6” originated in the military, which is why the ;IGY6 tattoo started as a military PTSD awareness and support tattoo.
Now that mental health awareness is growing in popularity with many people working to break the stigma, PTSD awareness is more important than ever.
With the increased discussions around mental health, the ;IGY6 tattoo grew from being just military to including all those who suffer from PTSD and depression.
The tattoo has also been popular with civil servants such as firefighters and police officers, who risk their lives to support each other and have their partners’ backs.
What are the different variations for other groups?
There are some variations that can be added to the ;IGY6 design to bring specific, heightened awareness to elements of the message.
One variant is adding a 22 into the design, representing the 22 veterans that take their own lives every day.
Another variation is to add a skull. Adding a skull into the design emphasizes the problem of veteran deaths, while also representing new life for certain cultures.
Some people also add military seals or insignias to specifically tie to whatever branch of the military they or their family members served in.
Why do some have a 22 in the design?
A startling and tragic statistic that ties in with this tattoo is that there are 22 veteran suicides every day.
The Facebook group, Stop the 22 a Day, is working to bring awareness to this issue.
For those who choose to incorporate a 22 into their ;IGY6 tattoo, it’s an additional call to awareness for veteran suicides caused by PTSD.
While the semicolon calls attention to suicide awareness and shows support for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, the addition of a 22 really hones in on the special attention to veteran suicides.
PTSD is more common for veterans than any other group of people and is the leading cause of suicide for military service members.
Raising awareness by adding the 22 is a great conversation starter if someone sees the tattoo and asks about the significance.
What is the significance of the colors in a design?
Traditionally, each element of the ;IGY6 tattoo is specifically colored with purpose. The colors used and which elements they apply to are explained in detail below:
- Black is used for the IGY part of the tattoo. It represents those that carry a heavy heart due to suffering from PTSD or having lost someone to suicide due to PTSD.
- Red is used on the 6 part of the tattoo. The red represents theblood that has been shed over the years due to suicide caused by PTSD and depression.
- Teal is used for the semicolon part of the tattoo. Teal is the official color forPTSD awareness on any ribbons or symbols. Incorporating teal specifically ties this tattoo not just to suicide awareness, but specifically PTSD awareness.
Each color of this tattoo is just as vital as the symbols. The colors carry a lot of meaning, so it’s important for those who get the tattoo to incorporate the colors as intended.
What are some design ideas for IGY6 tattoos?
Although the ;IGY6 tattoo needs every part of the acronym and all 3 specific colors to really hit home on each level of symbolism, there’s still a lot of freedom in this tattoo. There are plenty of different design ideas you can incorporate in your ;IGY6 tattoo.
To start with, you can add the number 22, a skull, or a military insignia as we mentioned above.
Each of these hits a specific aspect of the meaning of the tattoo, so you can use one of these elements to focus on a part of the message that resonates most for you or your loved ones.
Aside from those, you can also try incorporating the American flag. Some people use the American flag as a background, or incorporate the stars and stripes inside the number 22. This helps call specific attention to the military aspect.
You can also consider using an actual clock to represent the 6. Your tattoo can have the ;IGY part with a clock incorporated into the background, hands pointed to 6 o’clock.
This is a fun and interesting way to keep the message of the tattoo with a different design element.
Some people have added words or phrases around their ;IGY6 tattoos.
Two common phrases that are often incorporated are “Not all wounds are visible” and “Not all who wander are lost.” Each of these phrases gives additional support and attention to those who need the message of this tattoo.
Another design element that’s common to add in with the ;IGY6 is a soldiers cross. The soldiers cross is made up of a helmet, gun, and military boot. This image truly stands out and adds a stunning image to what normally is a small, simple tattoo.
Although placement isn’t technically a design idea, your placement can drive the type of design you’re able to do.
While some people get the ;IGY6 tattoos small on their wrists, others get them on a much larger scale across their forearm.
If you choose to get this design smaller and on your wrist, you likely won’t be able to incorporate some of these larger elements such as a clock, soldiers cross, or phrase. You can still add a 22 or an American flag pattern, but it will be much smaller and potentially harder to read.
For those who choose to get the design larger and across their forearm, you’ll have more flexibility in your design. With the additional skin space, you’ll be able to add in any of the design ideas we listed above.