Houston Tumlin's Mom Opens up About Late 'Talladega Nights' Star's Mental Health Struggles

Houston Tumlin, the former child actor who played Will Ferrell's onscreen son Walker Bobby in the comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, died on Tuesday, March 23 after taking his own life. His mother, Michelle Tumlin, recently spoke with TMZ about her son's military service and his struggles with PTSD and depression. Tumlin was 28.

Tumlin was found dead at his home in Pelham, Alabama, Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans told TMZ last week. His girlfriend was home at the time of his death, and no note was found. "Truly heartbroken and stunned at Houston's passing. He was a joyful and talented person. Will never forget the laughs and good times we had. Sending love and prayers to his family and friends," Talladega Nights director Adam McKay tweeted after hearing the news. He also shared the National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number.

Over the weekend, Michelle told TMZ that Tumlin served in the U.S. Army for almost six years. He received several medals as an E-4 specialist in the 101st Airborne Division. His medals included the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Sevice Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and, the honor he was most proud of, Air Assault wings. "Houston received a different set of wings" last week, Michelle said.

"Houston Lee Tumlin was so much more than a child actor from Talladega Nights," Michelle said. "My beautiful boy brought joy to everyone he encountered and made them feel special. Houston fought his battle for years, and we will continue to fight for him." Michelle urged anyone who is suffering from mental health struggles to reach out to those who can help.

Tumlin is set to receive a full military funeral, TMZ reports. His family also marched in an event in Helena, Alabama to raise awareness of veteran suicide and PTSD support. In November 2020, the Department of Veteran Affairs released a new study on the veterans' suicide rate, based on data up to 2018. The report showed the suicide rate at 17.6 per day among veterans that year, an increase from 17.5 per day in 2017. Overall, the rate has been mostly unchanged between 2005 and 2018, hovering between 17 and 18 per day, despite the growing number of awareness campaigns in the past decade, note the Military Times.

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If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.