Police: Son likely stabbed Va. state Sen. Creigh Deeds, shot himself
The day before he stabbed his father at the family’s home, the son of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) underwent a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.
Deeds was listed in fair condition late Tuesday after his son, Austin, stabbed him in the face and chest, then shot himself in what investigators described as an apparent attempted murder and suicide.
Which reminded me of something I heard not too long ago, which is that there are not enough beds at psychiatric hospitals in the USA to meet the demand:
Severe Shortage of Psychiatric Beds Sounds National Alarm Bell
Report finds US deficit of nearly 100,000 inpatient beds; result is increased homelessness, emergency room overcrowding, and use of jails and prisons as de-facto psychiatric hospitals
A March 2008 report by the Treatment Advocacy Center reveals that for every 20 public psychiatric beds that existed in the US in 1955, only one such bed existed in 2005.
According to data cited in The Shortage of Hospital Beds for Mentally Ill Persons, in 1955 there were 340 public psychiatric beds available per 100,000 U.S. citizens. By 2005, the number plummeted to a staggering 17 beds per 100,000 persons. Mississippi was found to have the most beds available in 2005 (49.7 per 100,000 people), while Nevada (5.1) and Arizona (5.9) had the least. For the complete report, state-by-state ranking of beds lost, and list of recommendations click here.
“The results of this report are dire and the failure to provide care for the most seriously mentally ill individuals is disgraceful,” said lead author, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, president of the Treatment Advocacy Center. “Our communities are paying a high price for our failure to treat those with severe and persistent mental illness, and those not receiving treatment are suffering severely. In addition, untreated persons with severe mental illnesses have become major problems in our homeless shelters, jails, public parks, public libraries, and emergency rooms and are responsible for at least 5 percent of all homicides.”
This tragic result seems to a stark reminder of the problem and its real-life consequences. If only a bed had been available, this wouldn't have happened.