Master Chef’s own, Josh Marks was found dead in an alley near his home Friday night, with the cause of death being suicide. Josh at 7’2 was described by family and friends as a “gentle sweet soul” who “loved life and loved people.” Known by many as the “gentle giant”, Josh had great potential and showed signs of becoming a very successful chef, which was evident by him being Master Chef’s runner up on his particular season. At just 26, Josh was very popular on the show, and had a very large fan base. But what many of his fans didn’t know was that behind that huge smile of his, was a serious mental disorder that he had been fighting with for quite some time. It was just a year ago when Josh was diagnosed with the bipolar disorder, but his family believes the disorder began to seriously affect him during the time he was filming Master Chef. Josh’s stepfather tells reporters of “the toll that being on a reality show puts on people” as well as how Josh was put on a ‘celebrity’ type pedestal, with the expectation from others that there was money and fame; but, his personal reality was that he was struggling mentally and financially.” During July Josh was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after fighting with Chicago police officers who were called to the scene by Josh himself after he suffered a serious facial wound from a self-inflicted gunshot. Josh’s mom, Gabriel Mitchell, believes this particular incident was “a call for help” but medical attention was not given to Josh because of the type of insurance he had. Josh’s mom recounted that “access to long-term, in-patient mental health care was extremely limited, which caused her to “feel as if her hands were tied.” Despite this, Josh’s mom was determined to get him the help he needed. Mitchell enrolled her son in an outpatient program that “was the best available through her insurance”, and it was this program that diagnosed Josh with schizophrenia on this past Thursday. Mitchell says “he was very distraught by this new diagnosis as he was just coming to terms with having been diagnosed with the bipolar disorder, but he just couldn’t handle this new diagnosis.” Because of this very reason, Mitchell stayed home from work on Friday to be with her son during this hard time, but left for a couple of hours to pick up her daughter from school. It was then that tragedy took place, because while stuck in traffic on the way back home, Josh’s mom received a phone call from her brother saying that a neighbor spotted Josh walking around in an alley with a gun in his hand. Josh’s mother knew she had to hurry and get to her son before he hurt himself but by the time she made it to him, she was too late.
Josh’s family “blames the lack of mental health treatment facilities and the easy access to guns as factors in his tragic death” says CNN reporters. Despite this unfortunate event, Josh’s mom has not given up. She tells reporters “I am not done, this is not over. I am going to make sure that Josh’s voice and dream live on by fighting for mental healthcare treatment.”