Jan. 5, 2016, Waubaushene, Ont. - I came across a post on Facebook recently about the acronym ;IGY6 on a page called Stop the 22 A DAY (which is dedicated to raising awareness about suicide from PTSD). The people who started the Facebook page were made aware of the acronym through a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association in Texas – it's a patch that many of them wear. However, many people are also having the acronym made into a tattoo, which is how it caught my eye.
The meaning behind ;IGY6, according to the Stop the 22 A DAY Facebook page, is this: "The semicolon is from the Project Semicolon. When an author writes a sentence and is at the point of ending it, but wants to continue, they can use a semicolon. It creates pause. Almost like a thought, a reconsideration of the cessation of a sentence, or in this case, your life."
IGY6 stands for I Got Your 6 (back). The colours also carry a meaning. Teal is for PTSD awareness, black is for the heavy hearts that many of us carry – those who suffer from PTSD and those who have lost loved ones to suicide because of PTSD. Red is a symbol of the blood that has been shed.
So when you combine it all, the acronym it is a way of saying that if you are thinking about taking your life, PAUSE, it is not time to end, I've got your back and will help you through it and stand by your side. If you ever see someone wearing ;IGY6 as a patch or tattoo, know that they will help you.
The tattoo is usually on the right arm so it is easily visible when shaking someone's hand, which will lead to a conversation and hopefully help for someone in need.
I had to ask my husband to explain the connection between the number 6 and the word back; he explained that it's a military thing related to the clock, as in when you're behind someone, you're positioned at his or her 6, or back.
Words cannot even describe the depth of what I felt when he explained this to me.
Not only am I very aware of what the semicolon means; having experienced PTSD, the impact of what IGY6 meant hit me like a ton of bricks.
I sat there speechless for a moment and my husband looked at me and said, "What's up?"
I explained to him that I was amazed by how something so simple could have so much meaning on so many levels. Sometimes it's hard to describe what the fire service means to firefighters and for me, this phrase said it all.
Even though we may not always see eye to eye with fellow firefighters, there is no doubt in my mind that each and every one of the guys and girls on my department would have my back if things went south on a call. And I would have theirs – 100 per cent.
We should have each other's backs all the time, but we are human after all, and we are all unique individuals with different perspectives and opinions, so sparks are bound to fly once in a while.
But when it comes down to it, whether it's a friend in a time of need or a firefighter in a time of chaos, ;IGY6. And I know that you've got mine.
Special shout out to my fellow firefighters on Georgian Bay Fire Department for having my 6 all these years.
Jennifer Grigg has been a volunteer with the Township of Georgian Bay Fire Department in Ontario since 1997. firstname.lastname@example.org @georgianbayjen