March 31, 2014
In an emotional speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, State Senator Creigh Deeds told the crowd he wants to make sure his son is remembered more for his life than death.
Last November, Deeds' 24-year-old son, Gus Deeds, stabbed his father multiple times at their home in Bath County and then shot himself. A few hours earlier, the younger Deeds had been released from an emergency custody order after the local community services board said it was unable to locate a bed in the area within the six hours allotted by law.
"Through the loss of my son, I was faced with the deficiencies of a system that I and other legislators created," Deeds said. "I could be lost in my grief, or I could act. I chose to act."
The Deeds' family tragedy revealed flaws in the mental health care system in Virginia and Deeds worked tirelessly in the General Assembly to pass legislation to fix its most glaring problems, including extending the time allotted for emergency custody orders and creating an online psychiatric bed registry. Deeds called the mental health reform passed by the state this session as "incremental change" and told the audience the real work lies ahead.