Turning Personal Loss into Public Gain
(Jan. 28, 2014) “The system failed my son,” Senator Creigh Deeds told 60 Minutes in his first TV interview since the suicide of his son, Gus, two months ago (“Nowhere to go: Mentally ill youth in crisis,” Jan. 26, CBS).
Gus Deeds was 24 years old and had been struggling with mental illness for years when he was released from emergency hospitalization in November because no available psychiatric beds were found during the four hours of a psychiatric hold in Virginia. Following his release, he stabbed his father, Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) in the head and torso before fatally shooting himself.
Scars from the attack still visible on his face, Deeds spoke about his son’s mental illness, suicide and his own new mission to change Virginia’s mental health laws.
Like many other family members with a loved one who suffers from severe mental illness, Deeds told 60 Minutes producer Scott Pelley that he faults the broken mental illness treatment system. “For too long we've been shoving ... problems with respect to the mentally ill under the table,” he said. “We need to take a good long look at fundamental changes in our system of care."
Deeds’ has introduced several bills that might have made a difference for his son, including one that would create a real-time psych bed registry and another that would increase the duration of emergency psychiatric holds from four hours – currently the shortest in the nation – to 24.
“Gus was a great kid, a perfect son,” Deeds told Pelley. “I want people to remember the brilliant friendly, loving kid that was Gus Deeds.”
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