Phillip Alan Wright; His Story is Not Over

Phillip Alan Wright
February 24, 1998 - February 21, 2017
It has been three weeks ago today since I lost my nephew. My children lost their cousin, my parents lost their oldest grandchild, and my sister Emily lost a son. Phillip took his life on Tuesday, February 21, just three days before his 19th birthday. For the next three days following Phillip’s death, visitors poured into our family’s home, bringing food and flowers, cleaning, talking, sitting and listening, crying, sharing stories, and even laughing.  As Phillip’s birthday approached, we decided to celebrate him and his birthday as we had planned to do all along. He had made other plans, but those of us who knew and loved him still wanted to celebrate him and his birthday, so that’s what we did.  There was an abundance of food brought by visitors, and Phillip’s aunt Jeanette brought a birthday cake to my parents' house.  One candle was lit, signifying Phillip's first birthday in Heaven.  A full house of dozens of friends and family gathered around one another to sing Happy Birthday in Heaven, to share cake, and to celebrate Phillip on what would be his 19th birthday.
Then we celebrated in a way we've never celebrated before.
 At 10:00 on that Friday night, my three sisters and I, plus Zach, Courtland, Mark, and Andrew, found ourselves in a tattoo parlor.  I have lived my whole life with zero interest in getting a tattoo. I certainly didn’t wake up that morning expecting to have one at the end of the day, but every single thing we were doing that week was something new, something completely unexpected. Getting tattoos with my sisters was somewhat unexpected, but then again, I was doing a lot of things I never expected to do.  I didn’t expect to hear the awful news that Tuesday night. I didn’t expect to have to drive home sobbing, sick to my stomach at 2 am  to deliver the news and explain suicide to my own two children.  I didn’t expect to sit at my parents’ dining room table and type my nephew’s obituary.  I didn’t expect to sit with my sister in a funeral home, help plan her son’s funeral, and help her choose a casket. I didn’t plan to accompany her to choose a cemetery plot.  I didn’t plan to celebrate Phillip’s birthday without him.  And I certainly didn’t expect to bury my nephew. This was uncharted territory, and all we have had to navigate it with is each other. So it was fitting that we do this together. For Flip.
Project Semicolon
If you have seen pictures or tattoos of the semicolon symbol and wondered what it symbolizes, here is the answer: Project Semicolon is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who struggle with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Learn more about Project Semicolon here at
We all chose semicolon-themed tattoos to honor Phillip on his birthday.  Each tattoo contains a semicolon to represent suicide awareness. Six of us got tattoos, while Courtland and Mark offered moral support. It was such a good night, and it felt so good to laugh and celebrate our precious Phillip. We love and miss Phillip so much, and are so happy to now have a symbol to carry with us daily.  His story is not over.
On February 24, Phillip's 19th Birthday, Emily wrote this about her son:
19 years ago today I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy I had ever laid eyes on. It was truly the happiest day of my life as I had never known a love like that before. I was just a child myself when I became a mother. I knew very little but I knew I loved that baby with all my heart. He made me so happy and proud at times I felt like my heart would explode. Phillip was an extraordinary person. He had the biggest heart. Phillip loved his family, loved his friends, loved his baseball. The happiest days of my life were spent sitting on a baseball field. Phillip was smart, so smart. We recently discussed him joining the peace corps after college, he always wanted to make a difference. And he was beautiful!!! He was absolutely gorgeous, he always dressed up. He even wore ties to school. I have tried to wrap my head around all of this and I just can't. He was sick and tortured in his own mind. And as a parent it is the hardest when you can not help your child. I am heartbroken and I am forever changed. I will have to find my new normal. I have cried on Phillip's Birthday the last few years because I was sad he was growing up and was going to leave me. I said just the other day that this would be his first birthday in years I didn't think I would cry. God knew otherwise. On a Tuesday morning, just three days before his 19th birthday, my precious, beautiful, loving, funny, perfect son took his own life. We have been proud of Phillip his entire life and we are not ashamed of him now. That was his way to feel better. I hope no one, especially his friends, question themselves. Please don't replay the I could haves or I should haves. Please don't feel guilty and please don't feel blame. Just continue to love and honor my baby's memories. Happy Birthday to my sweet Phillip. And when the pictures quit coming and the posts go away and months down the road when everyone is back to their normal routines, please don't forget my family and please always pray for us. We are tight and we are hurt. ❤ love to you all
Since Phillip's death three weeks ago, so many people have shown their solidarity and support in getting their own similar tattoos. I have appreciated the tags and posts throughout the past few weeks, and hope you will keep them coming if it is something you feel inclined to share.  So many people have shared with us their own struggles and fears. People are reaching out for help and support, and they are sharing their own stories often for the first time. This response reflects how profoundly touched we have all been and how far this love has reached. Phillip touched lives and reached people.  Even in his death he is reaching others.  Several weeks ago, we didn't expect to see his impact on others to be so suddenly profound, but we have found ourselves in uncharted territory, and we are navigating it together the best we know how. 
Our family loves you all. You are amazing friends and amazing people whom we are blessed to have in our lives. We never expected to walk through this wilderness,but are so grateful for our friends and family that have helped navigate it with us. Much love.
xoxo, Erin
Southern Virginia Mom
SoVA Mom Home

**If you or a loved one is in crisis and/or needs help and a listening ear, there is help. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 
1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).