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?

Jessica February 13, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Alright Michelle "polite police". Parents don't NEED social media to help their children overcome bullies. And children don't NEED social media to recover either. So stop forcing it on us.
Sanchez February 13, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Social media is nothing more than ANOTHER means for bullies to ply their trade.
Bob February 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM
Michelle Pietcsch, you sound just like a BULLY.
Sandy King February 18, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Dear Noah, I know that right now it seems like school and friends are the most important thing in the world, but trust me they are not! It will be here sooner than you think - you will be graduating from school and starting your most wonderful life and leaving all these cowardly people behind you! remember bullies are usually from broken homes or abusive homes and unfortunately, this is all they know how to do because it is what has been done to them. Not everyone is blessed with great parents, like your Mom - I can clearly see how much she loves you and as the mother of two boys myself, I cannot imagine my life without them - as your sure your Mom can't imagine her life with out you. Suicide is never the answer God has big plans for you I can;t wait to see what they are - Stay strong for yourself and others!!
Laura D. February 18, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Noah, stand strong against hate and ignorance. Howard county schools could have done better for you. You rock.
Merette J. Bassler February 18, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Dear Noah, When you are in the cafeteria listen to music you enjoy with ear buds, take a puzzle book to do or open up a Bible start reading a verse. This will show the bullies that being alone you are not alone they didn't succeed in isolating you because you can entertain yourself w/good and fun things to do for yourself. Don't focus on the hurt from these bullies. Noah, you and your Mom do happy fun things together. Remember onward and forward keep moving.
Merette J. Bassler February 18, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Dear Noah, When you are in the cafeteria listen to music you enjoy with ear buds, take a puzzle book to do or open up a Bible start reading a verse. This will show the bullies that being alone you are not alone they didn't succeed in isolating you because you can entertain yourself w/good and fun things to do for yourself. Don't focus on the hurt from these bullies. Noah, you and your Mom do happy fun things together. Remember onward and forward keep moving.
Buzz Beeler February 18, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Isn't it interesting that Dutch jumps on the bandwagon over cyber security with this comment he wrote from a recent column: "It will also protect every American citizen who, for example, uses electricity or banks online or whose doctor complies medical records electronically." Fine; that protects records but what about people? Nada. Maryland does not have a cyber stalking or computer harassment law to protect either children or adults. Another lame politician jumping in the pool before they check to see if there is water in it. Those of us on Patch that follow the terms of use know what I'm talking about. A good blog on this subject will at least allow people what they are up against.
susan February 18, 2013 at 09:14 PM
NOAH....bullies suck don't allow them to hurt your soul. .People can be mean especially when they know their hurtful words and actions are effective.The bullies are the ones with the problems. .Find your passion and you will discover an amazing strength from within.Try going on the mat with yoga or on the wall to climb.You will find inner strength that accompanies a feeling of accomplishment that no one can destroy and along the way meet people that root u on not tear you down.
t.a.m February 18, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Noah, its a shame you found bullies at such a young age, they are out there even as you get older but you've got them beat already...you have everybodies support as a headstart. You need to do what YOU like in life and love those that make you happy. This is something that bullies dont have so they bully.Remember this and you dear Noah will continue to go far...dont give bullies a thought, the time of day or you are allowing the win, to get under your skin, AND YOU HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR VALUABLE TIME, dont you. LIVE and LOVE your life, and it will love you back.
nurse at spring grove February 20, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Strengthen the laws on bullying its killing our kids
Buzz Beeler February 20, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Isn't is amazing in this state there are no laws that do that and no one will respond from Annapolis on this issue from the eat side of the county. The sad part it's an easy fix by adding a couple of words to the existing law.
t.a.m February 20, 2013 at 08:45 PM
there are bullies not just as children but also as adults. they are also in the workforce, and in the nursing field; for example nurses eat their young. but that is a whole other story. You do see it in the news almost daily. IT DOES NEED TO BE ADDRESSED ON ALL LEVELS, because you see workers not happy making the 5;00 news. So NOAH its not just you but you are way ahead of the game, with so many people supporting you. Keep up the good work and be positive, doing things that make you positivly happy. Not negativly miserble like those bullies.
yoooooooooooihb February 20, 2013 at 11:34 PM
i know this kid and i don't ever remember him getting bullied. he is really good friends with this girl i know, and she says that he had so many friends and it was partially his fault because he completely blocked everyone out. when he threatened to kill himself this girl lost contact with him because she knew he was lying. the only bad thing I've heard was after this "incident" him and his family just wants attention and become "famous" someone told me this "he put a sticky note on his back saying kick me and walked around saying it is his third for the day" this is out of control and ridiculously crazy...
Buzz Beeler February 21, 2013 at 03:09 AM
First you sound like some first grader and your grammar is terrible. Your quote of "someone told me this", and "the family just wants attention", not very reliable information - ya think! What is out of control and beyond your reach or research and knowledge is that bullying is a nationwide problem and it deals with both adults and those in between. Your pseudonym matches your maturity level. Next time don't rely on rumor and hearsay, it's not becoming.
Steve February 21, 2013 at 03:13 AM
"Next time don't rely on rumor and hearsay, it's not becoming." That is laughable coming from you Beeker.
Steve February 21, 2013 at 03:14 AM
Did you ask your buddy Kongo about that?
jnrentz1 February 22, 2013 at 08:14 PM
If anyone doubts the effects of bullying, please examine the Yeardley Love George Huguely tragedy.
Buzz Beeler February 22, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Good point. It's not only children and teens that are victims.
t.a.m February 23, 2013 at 04:22 AM
I think we've all gotten off track here, this is to be messages of HOPE FOR NOAH...
Buzz Beeler February 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM
There are of lot of Noah's out there. This is not an isolated incident but a massive problem that effects many. You would not single out one woman's battle with breast cancer when the are a million other victims. Noah is a catalysis with his own story, but there are a lot of Noah's still out there. No one is taking anything away from Noah's incident, but he speaks for many.
emmeh March 01, 2013 at 01:53 PM
im sorry but this is just ridiculous, there are hundreds of teens getting bullied and where are their notes, emails, letters? if he was suicidal no one would have known, he wouldnt have posted pics of him cutting or anything like this, this is a ploy for attention. take it from a senior in high school whose still in the middle of it all.
Buzz Beeler March 01, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Ridiculous, like the name you use. What is your evidence concerning your comment? Are you speaking as some who has knowledge of this issue or just making a fool of yourself. Study the signs of suicide and how to recognize them. You might be a bit more credible if you could learn how to put together a sentence. Did you know that attempted suicide is a sign of someone seeking help?
Trey Slock March 10, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I agree, I've had it worse, and the only reason why this is a story at all is because the mother decided to take action on social media, when she really could have taken it to the schools attention and do something about it.
Buzz Beeler March 10, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Trey, you really believe the liberal school system is going to take action. NY now allows their students to cuss out the teachers without any punitive action. They say it may harm them in losings precious learning time, despite that 80% can't read when they graduate. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/8/bloomberg-lauds-education-80-graduates-cant-read/ The social media draws attention to this debacle of liberalism. Talk to any teacher in the county for the truth. I do all the time.
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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