The way the folks at Wookie Style Tattoos in Ahwatukee see it, anything that can be done to help alleviate the pain of mental illness and suicide is time well spent.
So, on Sept. 15, owner Terry “Wookie: Hoffman will attempt to break the world record for most tattoos completed by one tattoo artist in 12 hours – from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. – by giving free semi-colon tattoos. No appointment will be needed at the shop, located at 4142 E. Chandler Blvd,
At the same time, the shop’s other two artists, James Patrick and Sway Alvarez will offer $40 suicide awareness tattoos.
The semicolon tattoos are representative of a nonprofit worldwide suicide prevention effort called Project Semicolon. The group uses that punctuation mark to underscore its reminder to troubled people that “Your life isn’t over.”
As the group explains on its website: “A semicolon is where the author could have chosen to end the sentence but decided to keep going. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”
Wookie Style Tattoos’ artists and staff are donating their time and materials to ensure 100 percent of the money received on Sept. 15 can be donated to Project Semicolon, Crisis Response Network of Arizona and the Military Veteran Project – Mission 22, another suicide prevention organization.
In addition to the fund drive, the shop is dedicating the entire month to raising awareness of mental health.
“Our goals are to raise suicide awareness, remove the stigma associated with mental health issues and reinforce compassion and support for individuals and families that are suffering,” said co-owner and Wookie’s wife, Barbi Hoffman.
Wookie Style Tattoos will provide free literature on mental health, signs of emotional suffering, and identify local resources so those in need can access help.
“We also created a Remembering Wall in the shop where people can post pictures of loved ones lost to suicide,” Hoffman added.
Suicide has been a growing problem especially among young people in the East Valley and throughout the state.
The Centers for Disease Control in January listed it as the second major cause of death among young people in Arizona.
Since July 2017, more than two dozen teens in East Valley schools taken their lives.
“Each one of us at Wookie Style Tattoos has been personally affected by the loss and devastation associated with mental illness and suicide,” Barbi Hoffman said
“We are at a turning point in our culture where the attitude about mental health has to change; as business owners we have a platform and we are proud to contribute to the positivity of change,” she added.