updated 10/13/2013 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 10/13/2013 AT 5:00 PM ET
Prior to MasterChef finalist Josh Marks’s suicide on Friday, his family says he’d been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“He couldn’t bear the thought of another diagnosis,” Marks’s mother, Paulette Mitchell, told the Chicago Tribune. “He was just coming to accept the diagnosis of bipolar.”
After picking Marks up from a Mercy Hospital and Medical Center treatment program on Thursday, Mitchell says she noticed her son was visibly upset and stayed with him that night. She spent most of Friday with him until she left to pick her daughter up from school. Hours later, she received a call from her brother that Marks was walking in an alley with a gun.
“I started driving down the alleys. I didn’t reach my boy in time,” she says, after discovering his body in the second alley she checked.
As a self-taught cook, Marks lost to MasterChef winner Christine Ha during season three of the cooking competition and his stepfather says it affected the 26-year-old, but there were no signs of mental illness until after he had filmed the show.
“I don’t think people realize the toll the reality show put on him,” Gabriel Mitchell said.
Following MasterChef, Marks moved back to Chicago where his mother and stepfather and grandfather live. His mental health worsened and Paulette says, he began to hear voices and suffer from delusions.
Marks’s family hopes to start a foundation in his name to spread awareness and educate about mental illness.