Brother of murdered U of L student has died
Dean Walker never imagined that everyone he held dear would die in the same year.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dean Walker never imagined that everyone he held dear would die in the same year.
"I was very, very blessed," he said. "Great family."
In February, cancer killed his wife Deborah. One month later, his daughter Savannah passed, the junior at the University of Louisville was gunned down in a still-unsolved murder at the Tim Faulkner Gallery.
It was hard ... too hard on Walker's son, Nathan.
"He lost his two rocks: his mom and his sister," Walker said.
Nathan took his own life on Friday at age 27.
"We had planned to talk that night and go out to dinner for his birthday the next day," Walker said. "And it bothers me because I missed a call from him."
Nathan Walker's death underscores Kentucky's struggle with suicide. Reports say the state is losing 700 people a year at their own hands, a rate higher than the national average.
"The biggest prevention is to be proactive," said Eric Gross, Director of Clinical Services at KentuckyOne Health Our Lady of Peace. "To ask those tough questions."
Gross said if you fear a loved one is contemplating suicide, ask directly if they plan to harm themselves. Persuade them not to, he said, then refer or connect them to counseling resources.
"If you sense it in anybody, don't hesitate," Walker warned. "Make the call."
But that's where Walker said Kentucky needs the most help.
"When I tried to get psychiatric services for my son, I was put on waiting lists for four to six weeks to get appointments," Walker said.
The Commonwealth sits at the bottom of the country for dollars allocated to mental health care. Walker said his son battled bi-polar disorder and addiction throughout his life.
"He said, 'You're strong enough to survive without me,'" Walker said. "And I told him I wasn't, but he felt that way."
This traumatic year made Walker an advocate against gun violence, cancer, suicide and now for organ donation.
"Those of you who are out there who have not checked that on your card, do it," he said. "Because that's the one thing I can feel good about. People have sight, people are living, because of him."
He's a father finding purpose in his pain, the last man standing to carry on the Walker family name.
A memorial service for Nathan Walker will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Cherokee Park at the big rock pavilion.
For more information on suicide prevention and resources available, click here.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.