Another suicide after being denied treatment

6:16 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Virginia's Inspector General is investigating the state's handling of Senator Creigh Deeds's son, Gus Deeds who took his own life after being turned away from treatment the day before.

Three hospitals within two hours of  the Deeds's Bath County home have said that they had psychiatric beds available. But, Gus Deeds wasn't the first young man who killed himself after being denied treatment from a Virginia mental health facility. 

"My son was loving, caring, yet troubled, because of his disease," said Linda Margolis who knows the pain Senator Creigh Deeds and his family are experiencing. "It's happening all over again.  Déjà vu. This is someone's son. That happened to my son."

Brian Margolis was 22 years old in 1998. He had recently been diagnosed with bi polar disease and had just moved from Florida to live with his mother in Fairfax County, Virginia. She says Brian was delusional and attempted suicide with a knife. She says he told her that he needed help. In the morning of May 8, 1998, she took him to the Woodburn mental health center in Falls Church. But Margolis says the psychiatrist humiliated Brian, dismissing his fears and provided no help. She says they refused to admit him to a psychiatric hospital. 

"It was shocking that they didn't keep him," she said. 

Five hours later, after being denied treatment, Brian snuck out of the house and made his way to the Route 123, I-66 interchange where he killed himself by walking in front of a tractor trailer.

Why Virginia's system could not find a psychiatric bed for Gus Deeds during his emergency custody process, has still not been explained.  Senator George Barker, who sits on the joint commission on Healthcare, says it could have been more complicated than sheer availability. 

He says that once a bed is available, there has to also be appropriate care for the individual, who may be violent.  If the appropriate staff or facility is not there, a bed isn't either. Barker says since the Virginia Tech shootings, the state has improved its mental health system.

Linda Margolis doesn't see it that way. "If they just kept him, he'd be alive today," said Margolis, remembering her fragile and sick son.  "They need more facilities, they need more funding, and they need more awareness."

Sen. Barker agrees more needs to be done.  While the emergency custody process has a six hour limit,  a person can only be detained involuntarily for 48 hours, the shortest in the nation. Barker is introducing legislation to extend that time to 3 days. He says many states can hold a person in detention for up to ten days.  Barker says the greatest need in the system is for outpatient care.

 If there were more options for outpatient care, he says people would be treated before reaching a crisis. 

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