Project Semicolon is a suicide prevention organization that is saving lives:
I applaud this compassionate group!
I hope they (and you!) won’t mind if I use their lifesaving message as a springboard to talk about two important usage issues.
1. This isn’t quite how authors use semicolons. I’ve known students (and – sigh – a few professional writers!) who think a semicolon is a cure for a long sentence. You get out a ruler, find the midpoint, and stick a semicolon there. Problem solved!
Nope. A semicolon is like a period. Here’s what you do: find two sentences that go together. Change the period to a semicolon, and lower-case the next letter (unless the word requires a capital letter – Jane, October, Delaware).
Linda is excited about her new car. She invited all of us to go for a drive yesterday. CORRECT
Linda is excited about her new car; she invited all of us to go for a drive yesterday. CORRECT
2. Sticklers may have had a mild heart attack when they saw “could’ve chosen to end their life.” I – myself – have written two textbooks telling students to use his or her in this context. When you use they for one person – “an author could have chosen to end their sentence” – you’re committing a usage error called the “singular they.” At least that’s what students have been told for the past 200+ years.
That rule is starting to fall by the wayside, and many people – including me! – couldn’t be happier about it. I would leave “chosen to end their sentence” just the way it is. You can read more about the demise of the singular “they” here.