VIRGINIA (WAVY) – For the first time, Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds is opening up about the death of his son.
“I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness,” said Deeds. “I don’t want Gus defined by what happened on the 19th. Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son.”
Deeds spoke to “60 Minutes” about his son’s struggle with bipolar disorder. It’s a struggle that ended in a brutal attack against his father and his own suicide.
“He was coming home and I was concerned that if he came home, there was going to be a crisis,” said Deeds.
His 24-year-old son, Gus, had been diagnosed as bipolar in 2011, soon after his father’s run for Virginia Governor.
“Gus was a great kid,” said explained the state senator. “He was a perfect son. It’s clear the system failed. It’s clear it failed Gus. It killed Gus.”
Last November, Deeds had Gus hospitalized through a court order that was only to last six hours.
“If he could have been hospitalized that night, they could have gotten him medicated,” said Deeds. “I could have worked to get Gus in some type of long term care.”
The court order expired. A mental health representative told Deeds they didn’t have a hospital bed appropriate for Gus’ case. Deeds said he was told Gus wasn’t considered to be suicidal, so he brought Gus back to their home in Bath County.
Deeds described the next morning, Nov. 19, on “60 Minutes” Sunday night.
“I felt like there would be a confrontation,” he said. “But, I had no reason to think there would be violence… I went out to the barn to feed the horses and Gus was coming across the yard. And I said, ‘Hey bud, how’d you sleep?’ He said, ‘Fine.'”
Deeds said he turned around and Gus started attacking him.
“He attacked me twice. Stabbed me twice,” said Deeds. “The State Police told me they found a knife. I turned around and said, ‘Bud, what’s going on?’ And he was just coming at me. And I said, ‘Bud, I love you so much. Don’t make this any worse than it is.’ He just kept coming at me. I was bleeding a good bit.”
Deeds escaped and was found by a neighbor.
“When I was sitting in the rescue squad or helicopter, I heard about some call…came over the scanner that there had been someone with a gunshot wound to the head,” said Deeds.
Gus shot himself in the head and died.
Deeds has said he wants to use Gus’ life and story to address mental health problems Virginia and society faces. The state senator has already introduced new legislation in the Virginia General Assembly. One bill would extend emergency custody from six hours to 24 hours. He also wants to create a psychiatric bed registry, which would be a computer database that would list open hospital beds across the state.