Man took his own life following depression over son’s death

Date: Saturday 10th April 2004

A PENRITH man who had made a good recovery from depression suffered a recurrence of the condition after the death of his son and subsequently took his own life, an inquest at Carlisle heard on Wednesday.

Gordon Walker, aged 70, left a note for his wife, Mary, in which he wrote “Sorry darling, I love you all”, before leaving his home at Hutton Hill early on the morning of 26th January, prompting a frantic search by police and members of Penrith mountain rescue team.

His body was found in the River Eamont the following morning and a post-mortem confirmed he had drowned.

According to a report from his GP, Dr. Buckle, Mr. Walker had required little medical attention until January, 2002, when he complained he was suffering from anxiety. In particular, he had been worrying about not buying his council house when given the chance a few years earlier.

He was prescribed an antidepressant drug, but continued to feel anxiety and was given larger doses and other types of drug over the following months, as well as being referred to a community psychiatric nurse. On one occasion he tried to strangle himself with a tie, although he later said he had not really been trying to kill himself.

By June of that year, however, he had made a good recovery, although he was still taking antidepressants and continued to do so.

Tragically, one of his three sons, Stuart, died in September, 2003, and Mr. Walker feared his depression might return, as a result of which he was advised to increase the amount of drugs he was taking. This failed to calm him and he became more agitated, slept poorly, lost energy and interest and was constantly thinking about his son’s death.

He was referred to a psychiatrist who saw him at the start of December and recommended grief counselling, but no appointment was available until February of this year. However, he did attend the Lonsdale unit, Penrith, in January, which seemed to do some good.


Mr. Walker’s widow, Mary, said he had always been a healthy man and had continued to work at the Penrith premises of bakery firm Greggs formerly Birkett’s where he had been employed for 16 years.

Although he had made a good recovery after his first bout of depression, he continued to worry about things. Following the death of his son and the return of his depression, he had begun to lose hope that he would ever get better.

She said he used to go for little walks when he felt anxious, and this was why she had at first not been concerned when he was not in the house early on 26th January.

She went up the street to see if she could see him, but it was only when she found the note a short time after returning to the house that she called the police, at about 7-15am.

Recording a verdict that Mr. Walker took his own life, Ian Morton, the coroner for North East Cumbria, said he had known what he was doing, but he was suffering from severe depression.