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Georgia Tech recruit Bryce Gowdy struggled with homelessness, mental health before suicide

Bryce Gowdy, who died on Monday after being hit by an oncoming train, was scheduled to start classes at Georgia Tech next week. (Photo by Brian Utesch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bryce Gowdy, the 4-star Georgia Tech recruit who died on Monday, had been struggling with mental health issues as well as his family’s financial problems and homelessness before he was hit by an oncoming train. Gowdy’s death has been ruled a suicide.

Shibbon Winelle, Gowdy’s mother, went on Facebook Live and talked about her son’s mental state leading up to his disappearance on Sunday. Gowdy, his mother and two younger siblings had been living in their car and in hotels, and he was distraught that he would soon be leaving them in this situation when he started attending Georgia Tech next week.

Via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Winelle said that her son had been visibly struggling since Christmas, “talking crazy” and “talking in circles” and even asking her if she and his brothers would be fine in his absence.

“He kept talking about the signs and the symbols that he was seeing all over the place,” Winelle said on Facebook, via the Sun-Sentinel. “About how he could see the world for what it really was. He kept saying that he could see people for what they really are.”

Gowdy was the oldest and took responsibility for dealing with his family’s problems, which included financial difficulties, homelessness, and his mother’s mental health problems. In the days leading up to his death, Winelle said that Gowdy was dealing with his own mental health issues and had become paranoid, but she was unable to help him deal with his demons.

Via the Sun-Sentinel:

“I said, ‘Bryce, you have to dig within and fight these demons that you’re fighting.’ I told him I wasn’t strong enough to help him right now, and I have my own demons that I was trying to fight,” Winelle said in the video.

She said she told Gowdy to “get it together," “toughen up,” and that he needed to “get his mind right.” According to Winelle, he could see that he was upsetting her and tried to hold her hand.

“I wouldn’t let him hold my hand 'cause his energy was so intense,” she said in the video. “I could feel the pain in his soul and it was breaking my heart.”

Later that Sunday night, Winelle asked Gowdy to go to their car to fetch her favorite blanket. He left to do that but never came back, leaving his shoes, wallet and phone behind. He was found by the train tracks on Monday and was taken to the hospital, where he died. The Broward County medical examiner ruled Gowdy’s death a suicide on Tuesday.

Gowdy, 17, had been given a full scholarship to Georgia Tech, and was due to start classes on January 6. In the days leading up to his death, he tweeted that he was excited to head to Atlanta and start school.

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