Couple aim to heighten suicide awareness

For Jim “Bones” Sterner and his wife, Patty, the fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and the topic of suicide is a personal one.

“I’ve dealt with the same things everybody else has to deal with,” Sterner said.

The couple, like many others, have been personally affected by the tragedy of suicide.

The Sterners, also like many, have come to find solace in a movement called Project Semicolon, which advocates for the prevention of suicide and is most commonly known for the rising popularity of the semicolon tattoo.

Through this movement, a punctuation mark has become a symbol for the prevention of suicide, representing a place in a sentence – or lifetime – where the author can choose to stop, but makes the choice to carry on.

With the semicolon tattoo as inspiration, the Sterners have created what they call “a day of celebration” where anyone affected by the effects of suicide can come together for music, food and community.

“I just thought, I wanna do something and that we could do whatever we could to help,” Sterner said.

The couple’s business, Bones Motorcycles and Tattoo at 1461 Route 227 in Oil City, will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. for the celebration on Sunday. Although no money will go to Project Semicolon itself, all of the shop’s proceeds for the day will be donated to The Pointe in Oil City.

“They just do so much for our community, opening their doors for people when it’s cold,” Sterner said noting the shop wanted the money to go to a local organization and not national.

There will be three tattoo artists on hand to dish out semicolon tattoos, though Sterner said the tattoo is not a requirement to attend the event.

The goal of the day, the Sterners said, will be to raise money but also provide a space for people to come together and raise awareness for the prevention of suicide.

“We have a personal connection (to suicide) and many, many people have been affected as well,” Patty Sterner said. “It’s about support for each other in a common goal to help spread awareness.”