When Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds returned to the Senate floor this week, it was an emotional experience for everyone involved -- especially for Deeds himself. It was the Senator's first time back at work since his mentally ill son, Gus Deeds, attacked him, stabbing him in the face, before taking his own life with a gun.
How anyone can ever begin to overcome such a two-fold tragedy is beyond me. Deeds has demonstrated tremendous strength throughout this ordeal. He's also been admirably candid about Gus's struggles and about just how devastating the loss of his son, to whom he was so close, has been to him and his entire family.
Deeds has been vocal about the details surrounding the breakdown that preceded Gus's attack on his father and himself. The day of the incident, Gus had been released from a state-run facility where he'd been remanded into emergency custody after just six hours. Why the quick release? Because the facility did not have a bed for the troubled 24-year-old. Imagine how differently things could have turned out if the hospital had kept Gus even overnight.
Deeds has said publicly that this was a mistake on the hospital's part. It's spurred him into action to re-evaluate the broken medical system that has a role in the events that took his son's life. I can think of no more admirable way of confronting the past that has left him with scars both physical and emotional.
I can't imagine the strength it must take on Deeds' part to turn this tragedy into opportunity. It will be interesting to see how his past experiences impact his return to politics. It sounds like he has every intention of doing what he can so that no other families have to experience that pain and heartbreak that he endured.
What measures do you think Deeds could take to help others with mental illness?
Image via © Steve Helber/AP/Corbis