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'MasterChef' Runner-Up Sadly Could Not Master His Own Demons

26-year-old MasterChef runner-up, Joshua Marks, was discovered not breathing in an alley on the south side of Chicago on Friday evening. 

He was discovered by his mother, Paulette Mitchell, with a gunshot wound to his head.  The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office officially ruled the death a suicide, and his family hopes others will learn from his tragedy.


Just one year ago, Marks was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, coinciding with his loss to Christina Ha in the third season of MasterChef, the competitive cooking show on Fox.  Only last week, Marks was also diagnosed with schizophrenia, although according to his mother, Paulette, his mental illness was not apparent until after he finished filming MasterChef.  And according to Paulette’s husband, Joshua’s stepfather, “…people expect that you come away from a reality show and have it made.  That’s not necessarily the case.”


Ironically, Marks spoke out about suffering from bipolar disorder and his struggles in a public service video for the suicide awareness project called the Make a Sound Project in February.  He educated the public about how he used music as an outlet for his anxiety and to soothe the symptoms he suffered from bipolar disorder. 


By July, however, Marks was suffering a total “mental break,” claiming the judge of MasterChef, Gordon Ramsey, had turned him into God.  He was reportedly “manic,” and wound up shooting himself in the face, and then calling police and emergency services for help.  Rather than receiving an immediate admission to a psychiatric facility, or even the psychiatric ward of any Chicago hospital, Marks was given treatment for his facial wounds and broken jaw and then sent into the general population of Cook County Jail.  During this time, Marks’ attorney argues, he was given no medication and no psychiatric treatment whatsoever.  It is no wonder Joshua Marks’ family blames the system for letting down this young man. 


Despite Paulette Mitchell’s best efforts to care for her son, doing everything in her power to keep him involved and treated in an outpatient program she found, his illnesses finally got the best of him on Friday, when he decided to end his own life.  According to Paulette, the news on Thursday of his newly diagnosed Schizophrenia rightfully shook him, and was likely at least a partial catalyst to Friday’s tragedy. 


It is Mitchell’s ultimate passion to institute a foundation or nonprofit organization designed to educate and address the issues which plagued her son’s life in hopes of saving the children of other mothers and fathers.

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