In first TV interview since attack, Creigh Deeds says ‘the system failed’ his son


Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, , left, (D-Bath) waits in the hall outside the Senate Education and Health Subcommittee on Mental Health at the General Assembly Building in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. The subcommittee discussed Deed’s bills regarding involuntary commitment of mentally ill patients. Last year, Deeds survived a knife attack by his son, who later killed himself, after the son was released after time ran out while searching for a mental health facility for him. (JOE MAHONEY/AP)
January 24

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds is ramping up his criticism of Virginia’s mental health system, alleging in a television interview that it “failed” his son before he stabbed his father and took his own life.

Austin “Gus” Deeds’s attack on his father — a former Democratic nominee for governor — and suicide drew national attention, particularly for state authorities’ inability to find a psychiatric bed for treatment before a legal custody order expired and he went home with his father.

Creigh Deeds has returned to the Senate this month determined to effect change in the mental health system, pushing legislation that would, among other things, extend the period of emergency custody to 24 hours from the current four-to-six hours. Other than one interview with his local newspaper publisher, Deeds has not spoken often of the details of the attack.

But he did decide to sit down with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley for his first TV interview, and CBS showed a preview Thursday.

“I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness,” Deeds told Pelley. “I don’t want Gus to be defined by what happened on the 19th. Gus was a great kid, he was a perfect son. You know, it’s clear the system failed. It’s clear that it failed Gus. It killed Gus.”

When authorities couldn’t find a hospital bed for Gus, Deeds said he “was concerned that if he came home there was going to be a crisis.”

“I didn’t know what was going to happen but the next morning, you know, I felt like there would be a confrontation,” Deeds continued. “But I had no reason to think there would be violence.”

The next morning, Deeds said, he went out to the barn to see his horses.

“Gus was coming across the yard,” Deeds recalled. “I said, ‘Hey bud, how’d you sleep?’ I turned my back, had this feed thing in my hands, and he was just on me. He got me twice.”

Gus stabbed his father several more times. When Creigh Deeds wandered away to look for help, Gus went inside and shot himself.

The full interview with Deeds will air Sunday night on “60 Minutes.”

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