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Va. senator recalls son's attack, mental illness

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2014 at 10:23 am •  Published: January 27, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia state senator whose mentally ill adult son attacked him before killing himself said Monday the stigma attached to mental health issues has resulted in a lack of awareness and support that leaves the mentally ill to "struggle in silence."

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds appeared on "CBS This Morning" to discuss his difficulty in getting treatment for his son Austin "Gus" Deeds before his Nov. 19 knife attack at their isolated Bath County homestead. Deeds said his 24-year-old son's mental illness began to manifest itself after he turned 18.

Deeds, whose face bears scars from his son's attack, said he and his wife struggled to get the most basic information about Gus Deeds' mental illness.

"There's a lack of information, there's a lack of communications, and frankly my concern is that because there's such a stigma attached to mental health, there's a lack of overall awareness," Deeds said, based on a transcript provided by "CBS This Morning." ''There's an inequity in the way we treat people with mental illness."

Gus Deeds attacked his father less than one day after he was released from emergency custody because Virginia law does not allow people to be held against their will longer than six hours under such an order.

Sen. Deeds has introduced legislation in the Virginia General Assembly to extend the six-hour period to 24 hours. He said most states provide 24 hours and up to 72 hours to make an initial evaluation.

"We need to get in line with everybody else," Deeds said. "When it's been determined that that person's in crisis and needs service, there should not be a possibility that they are streeted."

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