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Deeds tragedy focuses fresh attention on mental health reforms

Published On: Jan 07 2014 06:54:59 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 07 2014 11:51:29 PM EST

More than three dozen experts from around the state met for the first time Tuesday in Richmond.

Richmond, Virginia -

As state lawmakers return to Richmond, the recent tragedy involving Senator Creigh Deeds is focusing fresh attention on mental health reform.

Tuesday, a new task force created by Governor Bob McDonnell began its work with three dozen experts from around the state.

On November 19th, Deeds’ son Gus stabbed his father and then shot and killed himself. The case has raised questions about the capacity and response of the state’s mental health system.

As the Governor's Task force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response met for the first time, McDonnell said the Deeds case has added urgency to work that began after the Virginia Tech shootings and continued after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

"Everyone who’s served here the last two decades knows Creigh Deeds, knows he’s a good man and is suffering right alongside him, with what he’s endured with Austin," McDonnell told reporters, "so we’re going to do everything we can to make changes this session."

McDonnell has proposed millions in additional funding and other reforms to help the state respond to crisis situations. And Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has expressed his support for the reforms that McDonnell has offered.