The more details emerge, the sadder this story becomes. Right now, Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds is in critical condition after being stabbed multiple times in his Bath County home early Tuesday morning. Police are treating the incident as an attempted murder-suicide by the senator's son, 24-year-old Austin “Gus” Deeds, who it now emerges underwent a psychiatric evaluation Monday, and was immediately referred to a psychiatric hospital under an "emergency custody" order. Because there was no space in the hospital, Gus was released. The next day, it appears that Gus stabbed his father in the face and chest before fatally shooting himself.
On Tuesday, Bustle reported:
Gus had been an off-and-on college student at William and Mary, and had withdrawn again last month. He’d also been charged with underage alcohol possession in 2009, though the case was dismissed.
“Senator Deeds was very close to his son Gus, and has taken herculean efforts to help him over the years,” said Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville. ”Our thoughts and prayers are with Creigh and the family at this difficult time.”
Deeds, a state senator since 2001, was a candidate for the state’s 2009 gubernatorial race.
On Monday, before Gus’s apparent suicide, he had a psychiatric evaluation by officials at the Rockbridge County Community Services Board. After his evaluation, a magistrate issued an emergency custody order for Gus. Ultimately, Gus wasn't admitted to a psychiatric hospital because there wasn’t any available space.
“I can tell you right now, it was multiple hospitals that they called. That is a very rural area. The hospitals are few and far between,” said Mary Ann Bergeron, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards. “I wouldn’t say this happens every day, but it’s more common than we’d like for it to be.”
Since Gus’s death and Senator Creigh Deeds’ attack Monday, criticism of Virginia’s mental-health system has swirled. According to a 2012 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, Virginia cut 15 percent of its public psychiatric beds between the years 2005 and 2010. Now, the state only has 17.6 beds per 10,000 people, which is less than 40 percent of the recommended minimum 50 beds per 10,000 people.
As if that wasn't enough, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell proposed additional cuts to mental health programs in 2012.
It looks like the Deeds incident will have an impact on the state's mental-health system: on Tuesday, lawmakers, state officials and mental-health advocates agrred that a shortage of beds for patients who need them is an issue that needs to be tackled.