I came across the idiom "to put a punctuation mark on something". Having googled a few examples of its usage, I am still not sure what exactly it means. Could you please explain its meaning?
I am especially interested in the meaning of "putting a punctuation mark on what one is feeling" in the following sentence related to self-harm:
It expresses emotional pain or feelings that I’m unable to put into words. It puts a punctuation mark on what I’m feeling on the inside!
(See http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm for the full context.)
Here are some other examples that I found using Google. For the first two examples I recommend to read the whole context.
Nelson Giants hammer Hawke's Bay Hawks to put punctuation mark on home season http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/basketball/69757256/Nelson-Giants-hammer-Hawkes-Bay-Hawks-to-put-punctuation-mark-on-home-season
He’s not saying her name to say it but more to put punctuation mark on his statements. http://ficly.com/stories/26979
And as if all this weren't enough, Tolkien puts a punctuation mark on the brave, wonderful life that is Sam Gamgee's by having him not only marry the pretty Rose Cotton but have thirteen (!) children with her—Elanor, Frodo, Rose, Merry, […]. It's hard to imagine a clearer or more winsome way for Tolkien to punctuate the novel's pro-fertility theme.
— The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot by J. Richards and J. Witt
Basing on these examples, I would say that "putting a punctuation mark on something" means stressing/emphasizing/underlining some point or achievement. However, I am still not sure how to understand it in the sentence related to self-harm that is cited above.
Short answer: The cuts are visible marks to what he or she is feeling inside.
The above usage seems more literal than some others.
My best guess is that to put a punctuation mark on something means
to bring to (visible) completion
to (visibly) complete
A sentence is not complete until a punctuation mark is "put on it".
A couple other uses (from Vocabulary dot com):
Notice this is talking about an exceptional running play that produced more points in the blowout game, "in the closing seconds".
The use you found regarding the basketball team is similar, since it was the last home game of their season.
Notice at the end of each day. So we're in the realm of something that completes something.
NB his final shot
All my examples come from the same vocabulary dot com link; I had to scroll through the examples. Some refer to 'literal' punctuation marks.
As far as the example with cutting,
Could it (cutting oneself) be thought of as somehow completing what the person is "feeling on the inside"?That's not too satisfactory. However, if you consider punctuation mark in the more literal sense, as visible marks, then this is perhaps what this usage is doing. The cuts themselves are visible marks on what he or she is feeling inside.
So, I'll just add this, to put a punctuation mark on my answer:
(The Moderate Voice, quoting The New York Times).