People who watched the television show may remember Josh as someone who was known as a “gentle giant.” Josh, 26 and 7’2″, was known by his friends and family as someone who was kind, well-loved and thoughtful.
But the same month he lost to someone else on the final episode of MasterChef in 2012, he was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And just last week, he was given yet another diagnosis — schizophrenia.
After struggling with poor treatment options, the stress of the TV show, and the brand-new diagnosis, it apparently was too much for Josh to bear any longer.
Apparently, after losing to Christina Ha in the final round of MasterChef in September 2012, things quickly went south for Josh Marks’ mental health:
“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.”
According to news reports, Josh suffered from a breakdown this past summer that led to his arrest by Chicago police. He told police that he had been possessed by MasterChef judge Gordon Ramsay. He scuffled with police during that incident, which led to them taking Marks into custody and filing charges against him.
Some might argue this is yet another example of the police being insensitive to the mental health concerns of people they’re dealing with. Instead of being sent to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, he was sent to prison, and placed within the general prison population.
Despite his rambling delusions, he received no mental health treatment nor evaluation while in prison.
The sad story continues, because after his mom bailed him out of prison, she tried to find an inpatient psychiatric treatment program that the family could afford. But apparently, nobody would take him:
“After this, Josh was determined to get well,” his mother said.
Paulette Mitchell [Josh’s mom] “continually ran into roadblocks” as she put her focus into finding help for her son, Butler said. “Access to long-term, in-patient mental health care is extremely limited. How can you appropriately treat your loved one’s mental health challenges if access to necessary care is virtually non-existent?”
She “felt as if her hands were tied” but “she was doing everything she could to get him in treatment,” [the family lawyer] said. Mitchell enrolled her son in an outpatient program that was “the best available through insurance,” she said.
They did find an outpatient program for Josh while continuing to explore other treatment options. But that program ended last Thursday, with a doctor apparently casually informing Marks that he believed he was suffering from schizophrenia.
Perhaps not the best time to lay a new diagnosis on a patient, ya know? — when you’re discharging them from treatment.
“That’s not what I am, that’s not what I am,” he told his mother, the lawyer said.
“He was very distraught by this new diagnosis,” his mother said. “He was just coming to terms with having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but he just couldn’t handle this new diagnosis.”
And this new diagnosis is apparently the final straw that led him to gain access to a gun (not hard here in America), walk down a back alley in their Chicago neighborhood, and put a bullet though his head.
If there’s one silver lining to this tragic series of events, it’s that the family is now dedicated to trying to ensure this happens to a few less people each year:
Mitchell is determined to set up a foundation in her son’s memory to help people with mental illness to address the same issues as Marks.
“I am not done, this is not over,” she said. “I am going to make sure that Josh’s voice and dream live on by fighting for mental healthcare treatment.”
We’ll stay tuned and let you know about the foundation once it’s up and running.
Read the full article: 'MasterChef's' Josh Marks loses 'battle of his life,' commits suicide