BUFFALO, NY — An incredible story in our community surrounding mental health and wellness and it all centers around a small tattoo with a powerful symbol.
Katie Battel, 28, a Buffalo waitress, wears the semi-colon tattoo on her wrist, symbolizing solidarity against suicide, and received an act of kindness that melted her heart.
Battel and Brett Ransom, a Buffalo school teacher, truly highlight the meaning of the word serendipity — something that happens by chance in a positive way.
Friday night was a routine night for Battel as she waited tables at Sato in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village.
Ransom and his wife were at one of her tables.
But Battel didn't realize Ransom spotted her semicolon tattoo on her wrist.
For nearly a decade this symbol has been used to show solidarity against suicide and other mental health issues.
“Anybody who's struggling with mental health — I think it's just great to know that there is somebody whether you know it or not — appreciates you being here,” Ransom declared.
That's when ransom decided to write a note on his dinner bill.
“We noticed your semicolon tattoo— we're glad that you're still here and that you helped us have a great meal. Thanks,” read Battel.
“It’s probably out of most people's comfort zone and I think mine as well sometimes and this was just a chance — I felt the will to do so and did it,” Ransom explained.
Battel shared that when she was 21, she tried to take her own life. She still copes with depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.
“But Brett doesn't actually know — the night before I had confided in one of my friends and told her — I’m having those thoughts again,” Battle cried.
The timing of his note took on an even stronger meaning.
“It was just like a sign from the universe so something — like hey girl, we know you're going through it again, but here you go — here's a little boost to help you keep going,” described Battel.
“How wonderful for that couple to point that out and give such a positive message,” responded Melinda DuBois, executive director, Mental Health Advocates of WNY.
As May is Mental Health Awareness month — this can serve as a reminder that a little compassion can go a long way in helping someone's mental wellbeing.
“When we notice somebody that’s struggling or we notice that somebody's been struggling and is doing well — to really reach out to folks and talk to each other about their mental health,” said DuBois. “And if we all did more of that — we would be creating such a wonderful spirit and positivity in the world.”
“I felt compelled to say something and I did and I’m glad I did,” Ransom noted.
Battel posted a short and tearful message on Twitter and she received a massive response.
She has had more than 300,000 ‘likes’ on her Twitter account and an explosion of reactions on Instagram as well.
“I’ve just had thousands and thousands of people in this thread — not only sharing their semicolon tattoos but saying things like thank you for sharing your stories — thank you for doing this — thank you for putting yourself out there like that because they have had people take their own lives,” Battle said. “And if me sharing my journey can help can one — at least just one person — that you're not the only one who feels this way, but we still need you here.”
Important Phone Numbers
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, the following resources are available 24/7:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Services (local) 716-834-3131
Trans Lifeline 1-877-565-8860
Trans Lifeline Canada 1-877-330-6366
Eileen Buckley with WKBW first reported this story.