A Son’s Death Reveals Chasms In Emergency Mental Health Care

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Parents who have a child struggling with serious mental illness live in fear that the worst will happen.

The apparent suicide of a young man in Virginia after he allegedly attacked his father, a state senator, shows how difficult it can be for families to get help in the midst of a mental health crisis.

The recession brought deep cuts in states’ spending on mental health. The reductions made it harder for people to get help before they’re in crisis, mental health advocates say, and even harder to find a hospital bed in an emergency.

In the best of situations, crisis care is “like a labyrinth,” says Ron Honberg, policy director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, Va.

On Tuesday, police were called to a home in rural Bath County, Va., after 24-year-old Austin “Gus” Deeds allegedly stabbed his father, state Sen. Creigh Deeds.

They found Gus Deeds dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His father was admitted to a hospital with stab wounds and is in good condition.

By Rae Ellen Bichell, NPR

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