Virginia Senator Stabbing Highlights Mental Health System Deficiencies

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Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds (
Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds (

Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds is recovering today from stab wounds inflicted yesterday, apparently by his son Gus, who died shortly afterwards when he committed suicide by shooting himself.

The tragedy is compounded by reports that 24-year-old Gus Deeds was brought in for an emergency mental health evaluation only one day earlier, but was released because there were no psychiatric beds available for him in Western Virginia.

The problem is widespread enough that there's a name for it: "streeting." It means releasing at-risk psychiatric patients because there's nowhere to give them the treatment they need.

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Mira Signer, executive director of the Virginia branch of the National Alliance for Mental Illness — one of Virginia's largest mental health advocacy groups — to discuss the issues facing patients and providers in Virginia.

"Unfortunately, it's a fairly familiar situation to a lot of people and a lot of families in Virginia who have dealt firsthand with something similar to this," Signer says. "Between April of 2010 and March of 2011, about 200 people who actually met the criteria for a temporary detention order — that dictates, basically, when someone should be held against his or her will — folks were released from custody because there were no beds."


This segment aired on November 20, 2013.


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