A study of emergency mental health evaluations in Virginia reveals that in 97 percent of the cases examined, a psychiatric bed was found within the legally required six hours for those who needed one.
The review, released today by the University of Virginia, examines an issue thrust into the spotlight last month when a state senator was stabbed repeatedly by his son — who, according to mental health officials, was released from an emergency custody order the day before because there was no space available at nearby mental health facilities.
It appears that Austin “Gus” Deeds, who killed himself during the incident, fell into a relatively small number of cases.
“In a limited number of situations, six hours is not long enough to find a suitable bed,” said Richard Bonnie, director of UVa’s Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, which conducted the study.
“It’s about 3 percent of the roughly 1,400 adult temporary detention order cases a month — but of course you want it to be zero,” Bonnie said in a statement released with the 200-page study.