People attend a candlelight vigil to remember Noah Anderson, at the Main Beach Overlook in Cape St. Claire on October 2, 2019. The 14-year-old Broadneck High student died by suicide Saturday, Sept. 28.
People attend a candlelight vigil to remember Noah Anderson, at the Main Beach Overlook in Cape St. Claire on October 2, 2019. The 14-year-old Broadneck High student died by suicide Saturday, Sept. 28. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

Through the sounds of crashing waves at the main beach overlook in Cape Saint Claire, friends, family and students spoke Wednesday about 14-year-old Noah Anderson and his impact on their lives.

Attendees at the vigil remembered Noah, a freshman at Broadneck High who died by suicide Saturday, as funny and kind. They also spoke about mental health and the importance of asking for help.

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After an opening prayer, the first testimony was by Noah’s mother, Celeste McCloskey Anderson. As she read off her phone, she had to speak through her tears.

“Thank you all for being here. Many of us are thinking Sept. 28 changed our lives,” Anderson said. “Our lives changed April 7, 2005.”

McCloskey Anderson called her son a gift, one who made her laugh. The sentiment was echoed by a number of other people who spoke.

Students reflected on how Noah could make anyone laugh regardless of the situation. Some called him goofy and one of his friends, Lily Davis, said he made her “cry laughing.”

Davis recalled a time when he turned to her and asked for help on a math problem, but she could not figure it out what made her upset.

When Noah noticed, he asked her why she was so upset.

“It’s a math problem — one of many,” he said. The two became friends and Davis said, “I was happy to have made a new friend.”

People attend a candlelight vigil to remember Noah Anderson, at the Main Beach Overlook in Cape St. Claire on October 2, 2019. The 14-year-old Broadneck High student died by suicide Saturday, Sept. 28.
People attend a candlelight vigil to remember Noah Anderson, at the Main Beach Overlook in Cape St. Claire on October 2, 2019. The 14-year-old Broadneck High student died by suicide Saturday, Sept. 28. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

By the middle of the vigil, the sun had set and the candles were lighted. Hundreds of faces peered over the flames as people waited for others to go up to the platform and speak.

Some students talked openly about their own struggles with mental health or about knowing someone who struggled with mental health. The message was clear: ask for help. Reach out to ask how someone is feeling.

A woman from a group called Moms for Mental Health urged students to be honest with their feelings.

“If someone asks you how you are, please don’t automatically say fine,” said Jillian Amodio, a member of the group.

“We are all needed. We are all treasured. We are all valued,” Amodio went on to say.

Monday, the principal of Broadneck High School sent a letter to students that did not shy away from talking about mental health.

“With the permission of Noah’s family, I am able to tell you that Noah took his own life,” Broadneck Principal Jim Todd wrote.

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The acknowledgment of how Noah died in the letter is not standard. Anne Arundel County Public Schools usually discourages public discussion of student suicide. But the family wanted to share his death in hopes of helping others.

“They have asked us to share their firm belief that mental health is extremely important, and that parents and children should have regular conversations about this topic,” Todd wrote in his letter.

In the letter, the family had a message, “be kind to each other."

Broadneck High had school counselors, a school psychologist and members of the county Mobile Crisis team as well as other mental health professionals at the school this week.

Noah attended Cape St. Claire Elementary and Magothy Middle School. According to his obituary, he loved to know “how all things worked” and wanted to be an architect in Seattle. He also loved the water, including fishing, boating, sailing and trips to Angler’s with his dad to get the newest fishing gear.

He is survived by many relatives including parents Ryan and Celeste Anderson and Susan Cuculis, brother of Ryan and Joshua May, according to the obituary.

The family invites friends to visit Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Barranco Severna Park Funeral Home & Cremation Care, P.A. 495 Ritchie Highway. Severna Park. Services will be held on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Bay Ridge Christian Church, 1071 Bay Ridge Road, Annapolis.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donatations to the Michael D. Maxwell, Jr. Foundation for Mental Awareness, Inc at https://mdmaxwellfoundation.com/donations/

Resources for youth and family

Call 911 for immediate assistance in any emergency.

Crisis warmline: 410-768-5522 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-422-0009 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools Student Safety Hotline: 1-877-676-9854 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Other resources

National Suicide Prevention Hotlines: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433), 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or Text: “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

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