Creigh Deeds: I owe it to son to work for mental health system change

Published: Nov. 27, 2013 at 2:48 PM

MILLBORO, Va., Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Virginia lawmaker Creigh Deeds says working to improve the mental health system is a debt he owes his son, who attacked him with a knife before killing himself.

Austin C. "Gus" Deeds attacked his father last week. The young man, who had been released by a community service board a few hours earlier, then took his own life .

"I am alive for a reason, and I will work for change," Deeds told The Recorder, a newspaper in Monterey, Va., on Monday. "I owe that to my precious son."

Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Nov. 19, the day of the attack, that evaluators there were legally forced to release Gus Deeds. Cropper said they were unable to find an available bed for him in a psychiatric facility and could not hold him for more than 6 hours under an emergency custody order.

Some hospitals in the area have said the board never called them and they did have space.

"I have very strong opinions about the CSB, and feel like they are responsible," Deeds told The Recorder. "My life's work now is to make sure other families don't have to go through what we are living."

Deeds, a Democrat, has represented a district in Bath County on the West Virginia line for more than 20 years as a state delegate and senator.

Virginia officials have launched three investigations into Gus Deeds' release, the Times-Dispatch said.

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