Creigh Deeds blames Va. agency in son’s violent breakdown, suicide

Posted at 8:38 AM, Nov 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-26 22:36:49-05

(CNN/WTVR) -- Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds, who was stabbed multiple times by his son, said he will work to change how mental health services are delivered so that "other families don't have to go through what we are living."

Deeds' son, Austin "Gus" Deeds, committed suicide after the fight.

"I hope we can make a positive change as a result of this tragedy," Deeds told The Recorder, a newspaper based in Monterey, Virginia.

"I think there may be a bigger problem here. I am alive for a reason, and I will work for change. I owe that to my precious son," he said.

The stabbing came one day after Deeds' son was taken to a hospital under an emergency custody order. Police confirmed that Gus Deeds, 24, was brought in by the local sheriff for evaluation by mental health professionals.

The young man was released after the evaluation because no open psychiatric bed could be located across a wide area of western Virginia, Dennis Cropper, executive director of the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Cropper declined to comment on the specifics of the case but said not finding a bed was unusual for his agency.

CNN later learned that at least three Virginia hospitals had psychiatric beds available the day before the stabbing and suicide.

Officials at Western State, Rockingham Memorial and UVA Charlottesville hospitals said beds were available, but they had not been contacted by medical personnel who evaluated the younger Deeds.

The hospitals are within an hour or two from Bath County, where the incident occurred, but it was unclear whether those who had the initial contact with Gus Deeds reached out only to hospitals closer to Bath County.

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

CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George spoke with Mary Ann Bergeron, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, Tuesday.

This was Bergeron's first on camera interview since the incident.

"Do you feel as though CSB's are responsible?" St. George asked.

"I am not prepared to answer a couple of those questions but I am prepared to tell you we are heartsick at what happened and we just have the deepest sympathies for the senator and his family," Bergeron said.

"There are two possibly three investigations going we know that they will be detailed and we are hopeful they will be able to provide insight into what happened," Bergeron said.

Deeds, 55, is well-known in Virginia political circles. A Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 2005 and for governor in 2009, both times against Republican Bob McDonnell, who is now Virginia's governor.

He was released from the hospital on Friday, three days after he was stabbed more than 10 times in the head and neck.

CNN's Dave Alsup, Ray Sanchez and Rose Arce contributed to this report.

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