Va. State Senator Attacked By Bipolar Son Blames Health System

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 09:45 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds, attacked by his mentally-ill son last November, says in his first TV interview he doesn't want son Gus "defined by his illness" and blames flawed mental health care for the 24-year-old's death.

In a portion of the "60 Minutes" interview aired made public Thursday, Deeds, a long scar on his face still visible from the stabbing, said, "It's clear the system ... failed Gus."

The full interview airs Sunday.

"I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness," Deeds said. "I don't want Gus to be defined by what happened on the 19th. Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son. It's clear the system failed. It's clear that it failed Gus. It killed Gus."

Deeds, worried his bipolar son was suicidal, got a court order and sheriff's deputies to take the young man to an E.R. last November. But the order expired in six hours — before a psychiatric bed could be found, and Gus returned home.

"I didn't know what was going to happen, but the next morning, you know, I felt like there'd be a confrontation, but I didn’t -- I had no reason to think there'd be violence," Deeds said.

"... I got ready for work, and I went out to the barn to feed the horses, and Gus was coming across the yard and ... I said, 'Hey, bud, how'd you sleep?' He said, 'Fine.' I turned my back and, you know, I turned my back, had this feed thing in my hands and he was just on me."

"He got me twice," said Deeds, who suffered 10 wounds in all.

Hours later, his son fatally shot himself.

Now back at work in the Virginia state Senate, Deeds has introduced bills to extend the length of emergency court orders to 24 hours and create a computer database to instantly list every open psychiatric bed statewide.

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