Deeds’ Stabbing and Suicide: Exposes the critical need to consider psychotic behavior as a symptom of an underlying medical condition

By Maria Mangicaro

Bath County, VA:  In today’s blog post, best-selling author Pete Earley expressed his opinions about the stabbing of Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds.  Senator Deeds was stabbed by his son Austin, who later committed suicide.  Click here to read “Deeds’ Stabbing and Suicide Expose Bed Shortage But Will Anyone Care Tomorrow?”  by Pete Earley.

The tragic incident caused Mr. Earley to become overwhelmed with calls from reporters and he immediately gave interviews to four television networks.   His son Kevin joined him to discuss how he felt when he was psychotic.

Earley also participated in an interview with NPR’s Kojo Nnamid and was quoted on ABC News with Diane Sawyer.

On the same day as the Deeds incident, Pete Earley was part of a mental health summit that took place in Washington D.C.  The event, Connect 4 Mental Health, was sponsored in-part by the pharmaceutical companies Otsuka and Lundbeck, 

As Earley points out, it takes high-profile tragedies to gain mass media attention.

In prior articles Earley described how Virginia hospitals are “streeting” patients— turning them away from emergency rooms due to the lack of beds available for psychiatric patients.   His statements are based on a report by VA Inspector General G. Douglas Bevelacqua who Earley claims is “a lone and relentless voice in Virginia when it comes to spotlighting holes in our state’s system.”

Mr. Earley highlights reports claiming Gus Deeds was released from a mental health center “untreated” because there were no crisis care beds available.

Earley ignores reports stating 24-year-old Gus Deeds has already been diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder.

Friends of Gus stated that he idolized his father, was a brilliant musician  and was a kind soul who wore his heart on his sleeve.

A childhood friend of Gus Deeds told ABC News on Wednesday. “I don’t know where they ended up taking him but he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and did get treatment for a while and I know he was on medication.”

While I appreciate Mr. Earley’s efforts to advocate for the “mentally ill”, I am at odds with his attempts to promote the concept that patients exhibiting symptoms of psychosis are “mentally ill” and in need of medication.

Earley equates “treatment” with medication management.

Mr. Earley is aware of the fact many medical conditions and substances can cause psychotic or manic behavior.  He is also aware of the fact medications used to treat symptoms of “mental illness” can cause psychotic or manic behavior.

While Mr. Earley is aware of the Best Practice Assessment of Psychosis guidelines published in the British Medical Journal, he ignores them and promotes the use of psychopharmacology to treat symptoms of “mental illness”.

The Deeds’s stabbing exposes much more than a shortage of beds in our psychiatric facilities, it exposes the lack of concern that an individual exhibiting symptoms of severe “mental illness” is in need of medical help for an underlying condition.

Unfortunately, individuals who are taking the lead in educating the public, like best-selling author Pete Earley, are only concerned with promoting an agenda that supports the pharmaceutical industry and not best practice health care.


  1. this author of this article has every right to have an opinion on this certin case ,but their is no reason to label millions because of one incident made by a individual who was clearly in a psychotic state.Every person with a mental illness has a different story and different trumua .Why label millions of others with a psychosis because of one person who got violent.This person has no right to hurt someone, no one does.So why do you label and put all these different people into one catagory . If you study the mind at all, you would know that each person has different brain chemistry.Each person with a mental illness as well as each person on the street has a different life and reacts to things in there own way.Why blame all people with a mental illness ,calling them murderers.That is wrong,.Stereotyping people with an illness is wrong,it all depends on the person and their situations in life.and also how they control and react to a problem.Not every one is the same no matter whether your so called “mentally Ill ” or not..

  2. Hi Jennifer,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post and write a very thoughtful comment.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Yes, every person labeled with a “mental illness” does have a different story and a different trauma and the labels of “mental illness” are extremely stigmatizing which leads to stereotyping.

    I put this site together to help call attention to the many underlying medical conditions and substances that can induce behavior that is considered “psychotic” in nature and can lead to individuals being labeled “mentally ill”.

    In some cases, and perhaps this might be the cause of Gus Deeds’ suicide, medications used to treat symptoms considered to be “mental illness” are the cause of a person committing violent crimes or suicide.

    The British Medical Journal put together guidelines for doctors to use when assessing behavior considered “psychotic”. All mental health advocates owe a duty of care to individuals suffering from psychosis to ensure their right to accurate assessment under best practice standards is given before they are labeled “mentally ill”.

    I have consistently conveyed this message to author Pete Earley and he deliberately ignores this information. As a mental health advocate, Pete Earley is acting with negligence.

  3. PLEASE…STOP protecting pharmaceuticals. Anti depressants cause SO MANY people to go nuts and SUICIDAL however ALL a hush hush in our MEDIA , police, hospital records. Look into any major shooting & suicides in our USA and the real cause behind it is NEVER divulged could it be these companies pour $Mil into our political mafia which owns all our media, etc???

    1. Hi,

      I also am a volunteer for the International Society of Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry (ISEPP) and post information about the connection between antidepressants and suicidal/homicidal thinking.

      Yes, pharmaceutical companies need to be exposed, as well, so do the medical and mental health professionals who exclude medical conditions, such as encephalopathy caused by psych meds, and instead label individuals with “mental illness”.

      Psychiatry uses the DSM5 with a “Chinese Menu” approach, labeling individuals “mentally ill”.

      Mental health advocates need to advance Best Practice Assessment and treatment standards. This is a major flaw in our system.

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