Bullied Columbia Teen Receives Thousands of Messages of Support After Mother's Social Media Plea

After Karen Brocklebank's son threatened to kill himself, she asked for support on social media and it came, in droves.


On Jan. 28, Karen Brocklebank wrote the first post on the Letters for Noah Facebook Page.

The post described how her son was dealing with depression caused by bullying on social media sites and in his Howard County middle school.

"This past weekend he posted on his Instagram account that he was planning to commit suicide on his birthday," wrote Brocklebank. "He also posted images of his arm where he has been cutting himself for the past two months."

She was inspired to write about Noah's condition after sitting in the emergency room at his bed, where police had taken him after hearing about the Instagram post.

"Noah has been dealing with bullying for the past year," wrote Brocklebank. "He has been feeling alone and left out, ostracized from old friends and a misfit among new kids."

At the time of the post he was 12; Noah's 13th birthday was on Feb. 8.

Brocklebank wrote that Noah has been through therapy, but that she is struggling to help him by herself, and decided to ask for support from her friends.

What could they do to help? Send letters of hope.

Two days later the letters started pouring in, according to the Facebook page. With the help of a friend, Brocklebank started a website—lettersfornoah.com, where people could send emails to Noah or read about his struggle.

Soon after, on Jan. 30, Parenting.com picked up Noah's story and commenters on the site posted their letters of hope.

Do you have a message of hope for Noah? Please post it in our comments section below.

On Feb. 8, the day of Noah's birthday, Karen posted a picture of Noah sitting down among hundreds of letters of encouragement, smiling.

"Happy 13th birthday, Noah! You made it! And it really does get better," wrote Karen. As of Monday, 4,350 people have liked the picture and more than 12,000 have liked the page.

"Happy birthday Noah!!!! I hope now you see how special and loved you are," wrote Julie Hubbard Fabio on the Facebook picture. "Keep looking ahead... trust me, it definitely does get better."

Noah's story has also garnered support from local politicians. 

Howard County Councilwoman Courtney Watson posted on her Facebook page that "my heart goes out to this child and every child in #hoco who is bullied."

She also urged parents to be aware of the ways in which their children could be bullied.

"Do they play on-line video games? Use Facebook or Twitter? Instagram? Studies show up to 90 percent of kids do NOT tell a parent when they've been bullied. Check up on your child's online activities, talk [to] them," she wrote.

Brocklebank told the Baltimore Sun she didn't want her son to be ashamed of having a mental illness and that she wanted "to harness the power of social media, rather than allow her son to be a victim of it."

The Sun reported that Noah's school had helped to facilitate discussions between Noah and his bullies, even having the bullies sign contracts pledging to stop, but that, along with professional treatment, wasn't working.

However, Brocklebank said the letters were.

On Feb. 7, she wrote on the Letters for Noah Facebook page, "[Noah] loveloveloves the page and website! We have spent hours reading your letters and cards and enjoying your beautiful, generous gifts. He is truly affected and inspired by each and every one of you and I am so grateful for that. He is working on his own special way to thank you, which he came up with on his own. Stay tuned :)"

Brocklebank wrote that the P.O. box where letters are being accepted will remain open for the next three months. Those interested in sending a letter to Noah can do so at P.O. Box 444, Simpsonville, Maryland 21150 or write an email on lettersfornoah.com.

See related coverage:

School Staff Now Allowed To Probe Social Media for Online Threats

Guest Column: Why I Bullied

Has Social Media Made Bullying Worse in Howard County?

Trey Slock March 10, 2013 at 07:19 PM
I'm already aware of all of that and I go to a school where students do cuss out teachers, walk out, start commotions and fights. I'm just stating my opinion on it. It depends on the type of school you go to as well.
Buzz Beeler March 10, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Terry, your statement will go a long way in letting people know what goes on behind those class room doors. If the word does not get out no one gets it. Too many are drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to our education system. I'm sure you have read the comments written by students on this site. To say their writing skills are lacking would be an understatement.
t.a.m March 11, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Hey Buzz, not only does this go one in the school systems, there are the "leaders" that put the "bullies " to be in charge of the lowly students while those in charge do whatever they want(read magazines, watch movies on the computers, etc). Been there, saw that myself. So, it does happen and they are very crafty at what they do. And I Dont Believe in the "they were bullied themselves" crap, they are just used to getting whatever they have wanted at whatever cost....it is just at the childrens cost now.
Buzz Beeler March 11, 2013 at 01:15 PM
t.a.m. it's almost incomprehensible what goes on in our schools and what propaganda is feed down our throats by our leaders. It goes all the way to the top. http://dundalk.patch.com/blog_posts/closing-of-eastwood-elementary-may-involve-conflict-of-interest
Zahra Riaz March 15, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Noah, don't worry about those bullies, maybe they bully you because there is something in you that is not in them. Just remember that you have a whole future ahead of you and also think about the people who bully you, they will be satisfied if you kill yourself, and you don't want that.. I remember when I used to get bullied, I would come home and tell my parents and cry and would be depressed all the time... But, my family supported me like your parents are supporting you, and I learned to become strong, and learned to ignore bullies, trust me, if you do, they won't bully you again;) and also think about your family and friends, think about how sad and depressed they will be If they lose you! Just have fun times with you family and friends and think about all the positive things in life!


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