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.

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