“MasterChef” runner-up Joshua Marks, 28, shot himself dead last week after suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
He was charged with aggravated battery in July after scuffling with police officers who were called to the scene after he suffered serious facial wounds from a self-inflicted gunshot, according to his lawyer. His mother believed that incident was a call for help, not a suicide attempt, Butler said. But getting Marks help was not easy because of the lack of full-time mental health facilities in Illinois that would accept his insurance, she said. Marks’ mother, Paulette Mitchell, found him dead in an alley on Chicago’s south side Friday evening after a neighbor called to say he was walking around with a gun, Butler said. His family is now hoping to help others suffering from mental illness by talking about what happened to Marks in the three months since his arrest, she said. Marks — who, at 7 feet 2 inches tall, was known by friends as a “gentle giant” — was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a year ago, the same month he lost to to winner Christine Ha in the final round of the Fox reality cooking competition’s third season. A doctor diagnosed Marks with schizophrenia just last week, Butler said. “Joshua was so kind, so gentle,” his mother told CNN Sunday. “He loved life. He loved people. He would never hurt anyone; never. He was just a gentle, sweet soul; but he hurt himself. That breaks my heart, that he hurt himself.” “But, behind that huge smile, Josh was in the battle of his life fighting mental illness,” a family statement said. “It was extremely tough, but Josh was always positive, focused on his faith in God and determined to win; pushing forward through his illness to follow his passion for cooking and dream of being a renowned chef.” That battle apparently began just as Marks was achieving celebrity status on television. “I hadn’t noticed any signs of anything wrong or any mental illness until after Josh completed filming ‘MasterChef,’” his mother said. “The time he was away filming was extremely stressful on him.”...[L]ast summer Marks suffered “a mental break” that led to his arrest on July 29, his lawyer said. Marks told police he had been possessed by “MasterChef” judge Gordon Ramsay, who turned him into God, the Chicago Tribune reported. “What people don’t know is that on the night Josh was arrested in July, he had just shot himself and had called police for help from the emergency phone,” his mother said. “He wasn’t himself, he was in a manic state, calling the police to help him after having shot himself.” When police arrived, a scuffle ensued. “They said that Josh lunged at them and attempted to disarm an officer,” his other said. “In addition to his gunshot wound to the face, Josh suffered a fractured jaw and injury to his face and head.” He was treated at a hospital for the facial and ear wounds caused by a bullet that he fired and then transferred to the Cook County Jail, where he was placed in the general population, his lawyer said. He got no mental health treatment and no medications while in jail, Butler said....His mother, a Chicago public elementary school teacher, bailed him out after more than a week. She desperately sought a full-time mental health program for Marks, but she could not find a one with an available bed, Butler said....She “felt as if her hands were tied” but “she was doing everything she could to get him in treatment,” Butler said. Mitchell enrolled her son in an outpatient program that was “the best available through insurance,” she said. That program concluded Thursday, with a doctor informing Marks that he believed he was suffering from schizophrenia. The new diagnosis upset him, Butler said....Mitchell stayed home from her teaching job Friday to be with her son. “I was concerned about him; he just wasn’t himself, so I stayed with him at my dad’s home Thursday night after we left the hospital and all day on Friday,” she said. “I only left for a couple of hours to pick up my daughter from school Friday afternoon.” She was stuck in Chicago’s rush-hour traffic when she got a call from her brother saying that a neighbor saw her son walking around an alley with a gun. “I rushed back to the south side to get to the neighborhood, and just started driving through the alleys near my dad’s house looking for him,” Mitchell said. “All I could think was I have to get to him in time.”...While police work to trace how Marks got the handgun he used to kill himself, his family is also seeking answers. “We live in a country where anyone can buy a gun on the streets at will,” Butler said. “We know that Josh paid little or no money for that gun, because he just didn’t have it; he was unemployed and in treatment full time. So with no money, how did he get this gun?”That's a question she ought to ask the gun lobby.