By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations
CBS News’ 60 Minutes will air a story on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. EST/PST with an example of a tragic failure of the mental health care system for youth, involving a prominent politician and his son— a tragedy that could happen to anyone.
The segment is the first television interview with Virginia state senator and former gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, whose 24-year-old son, Gus, died by suicide this past November after attacking his father.
CBS News has posted a video excerpt from the interview in advance on the 60 Minutes website.
“I really don't want Gus to be defined by his illness. I don't want Gus to be defined by what happened…Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son. It's clear the system failed,” Deeds says in the interview
For Want of a Bed, a Son Was Lost
Gus, who lived with bipolar disorder, had been discharged from a hospital emergency room the day before the tragedy because no psychiatric beds were available in the local or nearby communities.
In the media firestorm that followed the tragedy, MSNBC.com noted that nationally “the number of psychiatric beds has been steadily declining as hospitals moved away from institutionalizing patients and budget cuts have taken hold. The number of hospital beds in freestanding psychiatric hospitals has dropped 13 percent between 2002 and 2011.”
According to the Washington Post, individuals with mental illness account for 7 to 10 percent of emergency room visits. They sometimes receive no treatment for days or even weeks “while social workers try to chase down open spots in psychiatric wards.”
Broadcasts like the one scheduled for Sunday, inevitably result in people asking where to get help themselves. NAMI offers the following fact sheet and programs for family education.