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‘IGY6 22’ meaning explained in context of PTSD Awareness Day 2022

Bruno Cooke July 1, 2022
‘IGY6 22’ meaning explained in context of PTSD Awareness Day 2022
Photo by Ken Cedeno/Corbis via Getty Images

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27 June 2022 was PTSD Awareness Day, and this led to an increased usage of the phrases “IGY6” and “IGY6 22” – both of which are popular tattoos for veterans and those expressing who support them – but what is the meaning of each phrase?

In the days on either side of PTSD Awareness Day, various actions have been taking place to improve the way we understand post-traumatic stress disorder, especially among US Army veterans.

Since 2001, according to the Stop Soldier Suicide organisation, more than 100,000 veterans have sadly died by suicide.

What do the acronyms “IGY6” and “IGY6 22” mean? What do they have to do with US Army veterans and PTSD Awareness Day, and why do they keep popping up as tattoos?

Photo by John Paraksevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images

What does ‘IGY6’ mean?

“IGY6” is an acronym standing for “I got your six”, meaning, “I’ve got your back”.

In the military, it’s common to use the clock to inform position. For example, 12 o’clock refers to the space in front of you; six o’clock means “straight behind you”.

So if you tell someone you’ve “got their six”, it means you’ve got them covered – in a literal sense – and that you will support them however possible.

Dave Ramsey writes that the phrase “declares a story of loyalty”: “I’m loyal to you. I’ve got you covered. You’re safe from enemies stabbing you in the back if I’m around.”

Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

How many US veterans commit suicide per year on average?

According to research by Veterans Affairs Health Care, in the year 2010, 22 veterans committed suicide per day.

That’s almost one per hour. The researchers used death records from 21 states to come up with the figure. It’s national estimate for veterans of all ages.

Whether or not the same is true today – after all, much has happened in the last 12 years – is unclear. 

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

Per a 2016 report from the Office of Suicide Prevention, the average number of veteran suicides per day in the US hovered around the 18-20 mark between 2001 and 2014, with a gently increasing trend during that period. 

One of the report’s main findings was that the number of civilians who died by suicide per day increased each year from 2001 to 2014, and that this trend was reflected among US veterans.

‘IGY6 22’ meaning explained as phrase becomes increasingly popular among tattoo artists

So the meaning of “IGY6 22” combines a message of support for the veteran you’re supporting – literally or indirectly – with an awareness that the number of veteran suicides per day, on average, is somewhere around the 22 mark.

Nonprofit organisation Twenty Two Until None aims to end veteran suicide “one step at a time”. Its website states that 8,030 veterans commit suicide a year – which, sure enough, amounts to 22 per day.

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One in every five suicide deaths in the US is a veteran, it adds. It runs various programs aimed at reducing the rate of veteran suicides, including those centred around health and wellness, financial assistance, advocacy, and camaraderie.

But one of the ways individuals are opting to show solidarity and support – whether they’ve served in the military or not – is by sharing graphics, clothing items, and accessories featuring the phrase “IGY6”.

What does it mean when there is a semicolon before the ‘IGY6 22’?

Tattoos featuring the phrases “IGY6” or “IGY6 22” have been popular for years. Some of them include a semicolon (;) at the beginning – meaning what, exactly?

If there’s a semicolon before a tattoo bearing the phrase “IGY6 22”, it means the tattoo artist – or wearer – is familiar with Project Semicolon.

Project Semicolon (stylised “Project ;”) is an American nonprofit that advocates for mental health wellness. One of its key focuses is on suicide prevention. 

It began life in 2013. Its aim is to present “hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury”.

If you are affected by any issues raised in the article or would like someone to speak to, please call the Samaritans. You can do so for free on 116 123. You can also email them at [email protected] or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch in the UK. In the US, please visit Samaritans USA for more information.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.