‘Bryce, you have to dig within and fight these demons that you’re fighting,’ said Shibbon Winelle Bryce Gowdy’s mother in a Facebook post after discovering her son was struck by a freight train at 4 a.m. on Monday, December 31, 2019. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office ruled his death as a suicide.
Bryce Gowdy was a 17-year-old high school graduate who had dreams of becoming famous, according to his uncle, Thomas Gowdy. Gowdy was awarded a football scholarship to Georgia Tech and planning to enroll in school in a few days.
Gowdy’s family has been homeless and staying in hotels for nearly six months. In Winelle’s Facebook post, she stated that Gowdy has been acting strange, “talking in circles” and asking questions about life, God, and spirituality just days before his suicide. He also wanted to know if mom and siblings would be okay in his absence. She sent him to get a blanket from the car and did not think it would be the last time she saw her son. She said, 'he was happy for his future but he couldn’t shake the difficulty of his family’s circumstances.' Family members stated that he felt a lot of pressure as the oldest sibling.
“He always seemed easygoing, easy to get along with,” Dave Brousseau, a Deerfield Beach alumnus who now mentors some of the Bucks players, told the Sentinel. “He was one of the leaders of the team. He was one of the guys who, when they were getting ready pre-game, he was always getting them fired up. So you got the indication he was clearly one of the leaders on the team.”
In his final tweet, posted a day before his death, Bryce Gowdy wrote, “Family matters, can’t wait to get to the ATL soon!”
As a suicide survivor and the oldest of five brothers, Bryce’s story brought me to tears, and my heart aches for my community. I was diagnosed with major depressive and generalized anxiety disorders five years ago. I started struggling with suicidal thoughts at just 12-years-old.
Increase of suicides among Black children
Unfortunately, Gowdy’s story is the story of many black children, such as my 14-year-old cousin Nah’Jaron Holmes, 8-year-old Imani McCray, 8-year-old Gabriel Taye, and 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis, who all died by suicide. The rate of suicide attempts among black children and teens has increased, according to the “Trends of Suicidal Behaviors Among High School Students in the United States: 1991-2017,” study published by the journal Pediatrics. An article by CBS mentioned self-reported suicide attempts for black adolescents rose by 73% between 1991 to 2017. In comparison, self-reported suicide attempts for white adolescents fell by 7.5% over the same period. These findings are based on data from nearly 200,000 high school students from the nationally representative Youth Risk Behavior Survey.