Family of man who committed suicide during standoff to raise awareness about mental illness

By Ariel Mallory

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MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — For the first time, the family speaks of a man who had our full attention on Monday in downtown Mobile.

Terrance Duncan kept officers at bay during an hour-long standoff that ended when police said Duncan had committed suicide.

His family and police believe he suffered from a mental illness.

Now the family is raising awareness about mental health issues.

Although it was a difficult conversation for them, they want his story to be told.

They say that what we all saw happening on Monday has been building for more than a decade.

“We really didn’t know what to do other than pray and wait for the police, but it was hard,” said his mother, Beverly Duncan. “It was torture. It was torture just to watch him.”

It’s been five days since they watched in silence as their loved one kept the police at bay during an hours-long standoff in downtown Mobile.

On Monday morning, Duncan drove himself to Government Plaza, refused to get out of his car for five hours and put a gun to his head several times.

His family found out what was going on by seeing it on the news. They immediately rushed to the center.

Joycelynn Duncan, one of his daughters, says relatives tried to get Duncan on the phone to let him leave.

“He told her he wouldn’t leave until he got the answers he needed,” Joycelynn said. “But we don’t even know the answers he needed.”

In the end, swat teams had to use tear gas to get Duncan out of the car.

Police say he died after shooting himself.

Inita Sellers-Duncan, his wife, says this was an outcome the family tried to avoid at all costs.

“We wish it hadn’t ended like this, but they did everything they could to get Terrance out of that car,” Inita said. ‘He couldn’t help it. He couldn’t help it and he needed some help.”

His mother Beverly says she saw him struggling with mental health issues long before Monday.

Duncan’s family say they spent years trying to get him the help he needed.

“He was very paranoid, he was struggling with something that I’ve seen him, my child, struggle for a year,” Beverly said. “It was like he died from within. And I saw him struggle with that day.”

As they deal with the loss of a loving father and husband, they want something positive to come out of this tragedy.

More conversations were about mental illness.

“Mental illnesses are not black and white. It is not rich or poor. It’s a people thing,’ said Duncan’s brother-in-law Dominique. “We need help with this. We don’t need another family to go through what happened on Monday.”

A Go Fund Me was founded as the family begins to set up the organization “Walking with Terrence’s Fight”.

So no other family has to go through this.

“We don’t have much, but we do have love. So we’re willing to talk to anyone. It doesn’t matter what time or where, we have love,” said Inita.

The family says they are willing to take this as far as DC to see change in the state of Alabama.

A vigil will be held at Mardi Gras Park Monday at 7:00 AM so that everyone can get out.

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