Early Tuesday morning, November 19th, one of our beloved Virginia State Senators, Mr. Creigh Deeds was hospitalized with stab wounds to his upper torso and head. Senator Deeds was flown to the hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery. At present, he is in fair condition.
He had been stabbed numerous times by his son, Austin (Gus) Deeds. Gus, who had been found with a life-threatening gunshot wound, but was unable to stabilize and passed away at the scene. At this time, it seems that Gus shot himself afterward stabbing his father.
Reports are coming out saying Gus Deeds had been admitted under emergency custody for mental evaluation at the Bath County Community Hospital on Monday, but was released because there were no available hospital beds in Western Virginia.
So when does one issue an Emergency Custody Order?
Any magistrate shall issue, upon the sworn petition of any responsible person, treating physician, or upon his own motion, an emergency custody order when he has probable cause to believe that any person (i) has a mental illness and that there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm and other relevant information, if any, or (b) suffer serious harm due to his lack of capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs, (ii) is in need of hospitalization or treatment, and (iii) is unwilling to volunteer or incapable of volunteering for hospitalization or treatment.
In the case of Senator Deeds, the emergency order was fulfilled for his son, but due to the lack of rooms, Gus was released. This was a tragedy in part because while a parent can only do so much for their child, when they rely on the health system to take care of the rest, government bureaucracy takes over. And in Gus’s case there simply wasn’t enough room to take care of him.
You would think after the Virginia Tech massacre 6 years ago and Sandy Hook, the Navy Yard and others where mentally ill people decided to take a gun or other weapons, would raise or elevate the state of mental health awareness in this country. The spotlight should be on mental health–not on guns.
Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2011, about:
- One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
- One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
- One in 20 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 38,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide.
The executive director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, which oversee the local provision of mental-health services across Virginia, voiced that local hospitals have been reducing and in some cases eliminating psychiatric wards, making it more difficult to find spots for people requiring involuntary detention, particularly in more rural parts of the state. “I wouldn’t say this happens every day, but it’s more common than we’d like for it to be.”
We pray for Senator Creigh Deeds’ recovery, to him and his family to recover from this tragedy. People who know Senator Deeds know how dedicated he is to his children and family, as well as the state of Virginia. Politics aside, today in Virginia, we stand united in prayer.