WASHINGTON — A Virginia state senator whose son killed himself after he was denied emergency psychiatric care is dropping the state of Virginia from a wrongful-death suit.
State Sen. Creigh Deeds — a Democrat who represents the 25th District that includes Bath County — is still moving forward with his suit against a caregiver and the health center from which his son was discharged a day before he took his life. But Deeds’ attorney, John Lichtenstein, confirmed that the state is no longer listed on the suit.
Deeds’ son, Austin “Gus” Deeds, stabbed his father and killed himself in November 2013, hours after he was discharged when emergency psychiatric services were unavailable.
The decision to pull Virginia from the list of parties on the suit was separate from the partnership announced the same day between Deeds and the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
“It has been the senator’s goal that no family have to experience this type of tragedy. The
announced activities represent a voluntary effort on the part of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to work with Senator Deeds for the improvement of mental health crisis intervention services in Virginia,” Lichtenstein said.
The two parties came together to try and implement change in mental health resources for Virginians with a goal to host an annual symposium, so that those in the medical and mental health field can brainstorm positive change, according to a joint statement released Thursday.
In the statement, the department elaborated on the efforts of Deeds and the department:
“As well, methods of bringing together those with interests and needs regarding mental health services — individuals with mental illness, families of individuals with mental illness, law enforcement communities, educators, mental health clinicians and counselors, court personnel, and other stakeholders — are similarly being pursued by Senator Deeds and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.”
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