Deeds tragedy spurs re­view of men­tal care

Gov­er­nor says state can look at more re­sources

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Vir­ginia Gov. Bob McDon­nell has di­rected his sec­re­tary of health and hu­man re­sources to con­duct a “com­pre­hen­sive re­view” of the state’s men­tal health sys­tem in the wake of Gus Deeds’ ap­par­ent sui­cide this week and said he’ll weigh pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional re­sources in the out­go­ing two-year state bud­get pro­posal he’ll un­veil next month.

Mr. Deeds, 24, un­der­went a psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion Mon­day, was re­leased, then attacked his fa­ther, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Tues­day morn­ing be­fore dy­ing of what po­lice be­lieve to be a self-in­flicted gun­shot wound.

“It’s just a heart­break­ing story,” Mr. McDon­nell said, adding the state se­na­tor is a “good, de­cent, hon­or­able man.”

Mr. McDon­nell twice de­feated Mr. Deeds in statewide elec­tions, most re­cently in the 2009 gov­er­nor’s race. Mr. McDon­nell also de­feated the Bath County Demo­crat in the 2005 at­tor­ney gen­eral’s race by slightly more than 300 votes.

“Creigh’s a great dad — he ob­vi­ously tried to do some­thing for his son Mon­day, and the sys­tem didn’t do the things to sup­port him that we’d like to see,” Mr. McDon­nell said Thurs­day on MSNBC’s “The Daily Run­down.” “If there’s new re­sources needed, we’ll look at it. If there’s more co­or­di­na­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween state and lo­cal agen­cies, we’ll do that. Our in­spec­tor gen­eral’s also do­ing a re­view. So we’ll get to the bot­tom of what could have gone bet­ter, but it’s too early — the facts are still be­ing gath­ered at this point. Right now, every­body is pray­ing for Creigh to make a full re­cov­ery.”

The tragedy has prompted an out­pour­ing of sup­port from peo­ple in Vir­ginia and across the coun­try.

“Dorothy and I are pray­ing for Se­na­tor Creigh Deeds and his fam­ily in the wake of this aw­ful tragedy,” Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe said in a state­ment. “This is a truly sad day for Vir­ginia and for the many peo­ple who know Creigh as the fine pub­lic ser­vant and friend he is. We join peo­ple across the Com­mon­wealth and coun­try in wish­ing him

a full re­cov­ery.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken­neth T. Cuc­cinelli II, a Repub­li­can de­feated by Mr. McAuliffe, a Demo­crat, in the race ear­lier this month, also ex­pressed con­do­lences in a state­ment through his of­fice.

“[T]he at­tor­ney gen­eral is deeply sorry for what the se­na­tor and his fam­ily are go­ing through, in­clud­ing the un­known suf­fer­ing of his now-de­ceased son,” spokesman Brian Gottstein said in an email. “At­tor­ney Gen­eral Cuc­cinelli has long been an ad­vo­cate of de­vot­ing more re­sources to help im­prove Vir­ginia’s men­tal health sys­tem, so those suf­fer­ing from men­tal ill­ness and their fam­i­lies can live hap­pier and more pro­duc­tive lives, with re­duced chances of sui­cide or other vi­o­lence.”

At the Vir­ginia Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee’s an­nual re­treat, held this year in Wil­liams­burg, Sen. Wal­ter A. Stosch, Hen­rico Repub­li­can, led with a mo­ment of si­lence.

Vir­ginia pro­vides be­hav­ioral health ser­vices through more than three dozen state-lo­cal com­mu­nity ser­vice boards, a be­hav­ioral health ad­min­is­tra­tor, and eight state-op­er­ated be­hav­ioral health fa­cil­i­ties.

In fis­cal 2011, the com­bi­na­tion of providers served al­most 115,000 peo­ple with be­hav­ioral health is­sues. Ac­cord­ing to the VACSB, the state’s com­mu­nity ser­vices boards also sup­port more than 42,000 peo­ple with se­vere men­tal ill­ness.

“Ev­ery year, some 4,500 peo­ple will be ‘com­pet­ing’ for fewer than 1,500 beds in state-op­er­ated fa­cil­i­ties,” ac­cord­ing to a July 2012 pre­sen­ta­tion by G. Dou­glas Bevelac­qua, as­so­ci­ate in­spec­tor gen­eral for be­hav­ioral health and de­vel­op­men­tal ser­vices.

As Mr. McDon­nell al­luded to, the new Of­fice of the State In­spec­tor Gen­eral is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cir­cum­stances by which the younger Mr. Deeds un­der­went a psy­chi­atric eval­u­a­tion Mon­day but was re­leased af­ter a bed couldn’t be found for him.

Vir­ginia State Po­lice investigators and lo­cal po­lice are shown at the Deeds’ home in Mill­boro, Va., af­ter au­thor­i­ties were called there on Tues­day.

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