Creigh Deeds to focus on mental health reform after attack

Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D), whose mentally ill son repeatedly stabbed him in November, intends to focus on mental health issues in this legislative session.

Deeds will introduce a bill this week that would establish a joint subcommittee that would study mental health services available in Virginia.

Its members would study “the delivery of mental health services, including laws governing the provision of mental health services and the system of emergency, short-term, forensic, and long-term mental health services,” the proposal says.

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A week before Thanksgiving, Deeds’ son, Gus Deeds, 24, stabbed his father in the head and upper torso multiple times. The son then fatally shot himself, investigators concluded.

The day before the violent altercation a community services board released the son after he underwent a psychiatric evaluation. Deeds had arranged for an emergency custody order that said the son could only be held up to six hours before finding a hospital bed. None of the local hospitals reportedly had a bed available for him.  

Several hospitals in the area later said, however, that they did have beds, but they weren’t contacted, The Roanoke Times reported.

Deeds has also introduced other mental health reform measures including one that would extend the limit for an emergency custody order to 24 hours, the Times reports. 

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), whose term just ended, defeated Deeds in the 2009 election for Virginia governor. Deeds was the Democratic nominee.