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.
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