Noah Brocklebank doesn’t believe in the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” That’s because the 12-year-old has been bullied in school for years and years.
“Fat, ugly, annoying, and loser” are among the names he can recall off the top of his head. Those are the names he’s been hearing for years, long before the Columbia, Maryland middle school student decided to do the unthinkable.
“I just felt like everything was worthless. My life was terrible–I had no one.”
What the 12-year-old didn’t know was that he had a lot more people than he thought.
Being in 7th grade isn’t easy, in fact, it can be said to be one of the toughest times in a kid’s life–but it’s even harder when you feel alone, unloved, and unmotivated to live.
Like many children, Brocklebank was severely bullied in school. It eventually took its toll on the middle schooler, and one day he posted a horrific message on Instagram that his mother will never forget.
It was January 26, 2013, when Karen Brocklebank opened up her laptop and saw what’s probably every parent’s worst nightmare on her screen. Her 12-year-old son had shared a picture on the internet of his wrists cut and bleeding, along with a note that read his ‘scheduled’ suicide date—February 8th, 2013, his 13th birthday.
Noah was sent to the hospital, where he spent eight days for anxiety and depression.
While he was in there, his mom was determined to help her son see life in a different light, to show him that there is life beyond the bullies, that there are more people who love and who care than people who don’t, and that the hard times will pass.
So with that, Mrs. Brocklebank posted a plea on Facebook asking friends and family to write her son a letter to remind the boy that they love him. It was a simple request and she only expected a couple of letters.
But when she opened her mailbox, she was shocked.
Thousands of heartfelt letters came from strangers around the world, all addressed to her son, Noah.
“I know it’s hard to believe right now but life gets better I promise” one letter read. Those letters comforted Noah and he found friends in the thousands of letters he never knew he had and words of kindness he never thought he would receive.
Although it may be just ink on paper, it’s the sincerity and love with which each letter is written that slowly but surely melted away her son’s dark thoughts and feelings.
Noah’s mother was touched and overwhelmed by the thousands of letters of support and words of kindness strangers have sent in.
“It has totally restored my faith in humanity.”
It seems it’s had the same effect on Noah too. The biggest impact? It’s broadened the middle schoolers perspective, transformed his thinking, and filled his home with color, optimism, and love.
He told CBS, “I always focused on like the bad side of people like the bullies then I realized there are caring people out there that could be my friends.”
Now, whenever Noah’s feeling down, he has thousands of letters from friends across the 7 continents of the world to turn to for a kind word, a piece of advice, or just some company.
“I’m not going to be done reading my letters until I’m like your age,” Noah told Steve Hartman with CBS.