"This son will remember these letters for the rest of his life, and I am sure, in part, they will save this son's life," Hinduja said. "I think what the mother is doing is fantastic."

Like school districts throughout the region, the Howard County public school system has anti-bullying policies. Rebecca Amani-Dove, spokeswoman for the district, would not comment on Noah's situation or the school's response, but said "student safety and security is the top priority of the school system."

Amani-Dove said school authorities respond to all reported bullying and cyber-bullying cases involving students by investigating the situation and providing social and emotional health services as necessary. The district also offers prevention and intervention programs as well as professional development for faculty, coaches, bus drivers and other staff. And students participate in activities, including International Day of Peace, No Name-Calling Week and Kindness Week.

Resources and outreach activities are also extended to parents, who are sent the brochure "What parents need to know about bully prevention in Howard County public schools," Amani-Dove said.

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Hpward County Executive Ken Ulman has focused on bullying, facilitating an open forum last May with Ravens running back Ray Rice and partnering with the schools and the Howard County Bar Foundation to show a screening of the documentary "Bully."

And in December, Ulman asked the School Safety Task Force to review bullying policies and procedures to find ways to strengthen them, including the creation of mobile applications to make reporting episodes of bullying easier. A report is due in March.

Brocklebank said Noah's school gave her a bullying incident form to fill out, organized meetings between her son and his bullies, and asked the boys that were picking on him to sign contracts pledging to stop.

Still, she said, the harassment continued and she wanted authorities to do more. For example, Brocklebank said, Noah sat alone in the cafeteria for two months and often skipped lunch.

The situation came to a head when Noah, who only recently received his parents' permission to open an Instagram account, uploaded the pictures showing tiny cuts on his arm and a caption with his suicide threat on Jan. 26. He blocked his mother from seeing the post.

Noah's friends and his friends' parents called the Brocklebanks to alert them while someone else who saw the post called 911 the following day. Brocklebank said police arrived and handcuffed Noah and took him in the cruiser to a local emergency room, where he was admitted for an eight-day stay. His outpatient therapy is continuing, and he is being treated with medication for his depression, according to his mother.

Brocklebank said she had scheduled an emergency meeting with Noah's therapist, but once the 911 call was made, police took over the situation.

Howard police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said officers are required to handcuff and transport individuals once police are notified that a person is a danger to himself.

Noah said he posted the Instagram messages because he wanted to "yell at the world" and let everyone know how blue he was feeling about the name-calling at school and the way other kids purposely left him out.

Every day he was in the hospital, Brocklebank said, she brought a handful of the letters with her. The family is still working with Noah on what she calls "safety goals," such as diverting negative thoughts by listening to music or talking to his parents when he feels sad. One of his friends has created an anti-bullying blog to show Noah support, Brocklebank said. A friend of a friend in Texas built the Letters for Noah website for the family, she said.

Noah's plan when he goes back to school Monday is to ignore the bullies.

"It's crazy how the world has shown me the light and how amazing it is and to ignore the bad parts," the seventh-grader said. "I still have depression, but I don't feel as extremely depressed as I was."

As for his mother, she said she is trying to "pay it forward" by finding a way for other teens to feel as loved as Noah has.

"I am speechless," Brocklebank said. "It is so humbling. It definitely restores my faith in humanity. It's overwhelming."



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