Organization promotes suicide prevention

Family members are making funeral arrangements for the Chesterfield freshman who committed suicide earlier this week.

Relatives found 14-year-old Courtney Walker dead in her home Tuesday and they believe bullying may be to blame.

Just days after the teen's death, people around the world and right here in our area are coming together to learn how to deal with losing a loved one to suicide.

Inside the walls of this library, other suicide loss survivors were able to talk about their family and know they're not alone.

Alex Slusher has been dealing with the loss of her son for three and a half years. He took his life when he was 17-years-old. The Freeman High School junior was a stellar athlete and devoted student.

"He was a wrestler, a baseball player. He was in honor society," said Slusher. "Just one of the smartest, funniest people you'd ever meet. He just had a ton of friends, and I think that's why people were so shocked."

Slusher wishes she could have recognized the warning signs earlier. Now she's joining forces with suicide prevention groups to make sure others do.

Some indicators include: depression, alcohol or drug abuse, PTSD, and eating and personality disorders.

"If I had known more about the symptoms of suicide and what to do and how to help somebody, I may have been able to help him," said Slusher.

That's exactly how the mother of 14-year-old James River High School freshman Courtney Walker felt when she lost her daughter to suicide earlier this week.

"If you have any gut feeling that something isn't right just take action," said Shawn Walker.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention coordinator Vicki Conley is helping people address the problem early and become a support system for others coping with the devastating loss.

"It's sort of a secret in a lot of societies and it shouldn't be," said Conley. "Everyone who comes to our events are suffering from the same loss and same heartache and it helps them to know other people are there."

"It just helps to know you're not alone," said Slusher.

The Walker family will lay 14-year-old Courtney to rest next Saturday November 24th at Bliley's Funeral Home. That's at 6900 Hull Street Road in Richmond. Right now, the family is still finalizing a time.

For more information on preventing suicide and helping others cope visit or

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