Friends and colleagues remember another side of Gus Deeds

  • 58 COMMENTS
“We loved him and he loved all of us,” said Tony Walters, Gus Deeds' friend since childhood. “I hope that’s what people remember about him.” Photo: Philip Coulling “We loved him and he loved all of us,” said Tony Walters, Gus Deeds' friend since childhood. “I hope that’s what people remember about him.” Photo: Philip Coulling

A week after his death, many of Gus Deeds’ longtime friends are still trying to reconcile the person they knew with the one the world was introduced to in grim headlines last Tuesday, when news broke that the 24-year-old son of State Senator Creigh Deeds had attacked his father before taking his own life at the family’s home in Bath County. The tragedy has sparked investigations into systemic failures within Virginia’s public mental health care network.

I met Gus almost a decade ago during my first summer as a counselor at Nature Camp in the George Washington National Forest in Vesuvius, a little mountain town in Rockbridge County. It’s where we both forged friendships that tied us into the same close-knit family of alumni and staff, many of whom call Charlottesville home. Some who watched him grow up there, grew up with him, and worked alongside him also saw Gus sink under the weight of mental illness and rise again. They knew him as a gentle, talented musician, a storyteller, a son who idolized his dad. Many are still reeling from the shock of his death and its circumstances.

Philip Coulling, Nature Camp’s director, knew from the moment he met a floppy-haired teenage Gus that he was remarkable. He had love for everyone. “It didn’t matter to him what other campers he was with, because he was always going to befriend them,” Coulling said. Gus’ big grin and his Appalachian drawl drew people in. “You never knew what was going to come out of his mouth, but both his way of talking and so much of what he said was poetry.”

Stories flowed from him, mostly about his native Bath County and the people in it. Once, at 17, he held a small audience rapt for 45 minutes in the middle of a gravel road, scratching out ridges and valleys with a stick, spinning tales of this group of cousins and that one.

“I remember even at the time being struck,” said Coulling. “I can’t remember any other camper ever speaking that intelligently and interestingly and lovingly about the place that he’s from and the family to which he belongs.”

He was a brilliant musician—it’s no coincidence that so many of the photos of him that have surfaced in news stories in the last week have featured a banjo—and he had an uncanny knack for improvisation that made him a perfect picking partner. Shirley Napps, a member of Nature Camp’s board of directors, remembers perching with a patient Gus on boulders in the middle of a creek, trying her hand at the fiddle while he strummed.

“I knew one tune,” she said, “and he played along with it. I couldn’t believe this person, at this young age, was so kind and mature to invite me to play my screechy, horrendous sounding notes while he was playing such good stuff.”

Gus was like that with everything, said his lifelong friend Tony Walters, whose dad went to high school with Creigh Deeds in Bath. “Anything he wanted to do, he could do at a very high level.” He spoke Spanish fluently, was teaching himself Welsh, was fascinated by botany, geology, Gaelic mythology. He was valedictorian when he graduated from high school a year ahead of Walters, and he made the dean’s list at William & Mary several times in his first years there.

The two friends were on staff together at Nature Camp in the summer of 2009, and Walters and others recall it as a golden time, even though some of the stress of his dad’s underdog campaign for governor weighed on him, especially Gus’ underage drinking charge, dismissed after community service, that Creigh Deeds’ opponents dragged up. Kids loved Gus, who seemed to have an endless reservoir of kindness and patience for them, particularly the homesick ones.

In August of that year, instead of heading back to college, Gus shaved off his shaggy summer beard, stocked up on polo shirts, and started traveling with his dad. Charlottesville was a major nerve center for the campaign, and many locals remember Gus and his banjo well from those days. Maggie Thornton, now a teacher at Charlottesville High School, was a campaign intern that fall, and jammed with Gus at gatherings near Deeds’ Downtown headquarters and helped organize Young Democrats meetings where Gus rallied support and told stories about his dad. She said the bond between father and son was evident.

Creigh was always excited when Gus was on the trail with him, “and you could tell it was a labor of love for Gus,” said Thornton. There was a real belief that Deeds could come up from behind, as he’d done in the primary. “Gus definitely believed that, and he definitely believed in his dad,” she said.

But Creigh Deeds didn’t win. Election day brought a landslide victory for his Republican opponent, Bob McDonnell, and shortly after, Deeds and his wife, Pam, divorced. News reports later blamed Deeds’ political career for the split.

At first, Gus seemed to take it all in stride. But then he didn’t go back to school. Walters and his friends started hearing worrying things from Gus’ family.

“It was only after someone checked in with him that we could tell something was wrong,” he said. “Something was off.”

His quirks had seemed to grow in proportion to the rest of his personality. Where he’d been sensitive, he became paranoid, thinking people close to him were scheming against him. He had always considered himself a Christian, but he was suddenly born again, touched by God.

“Some of the things seemed really harmless, and a source of comfort for him,” said Walters. “At one point he drove across the country and back, and he said he’d done it because God had told him to. But I thought, if it made him happy, that’s fine. He’s still Gus.”

But when he deteriorated further, his family stepped in, said Walters. He was diagnosed as bipolar, spent time in various facilities, started taking medication.

“Both his parents really worked as hard as they could to help Gus,” Walters said. Things started improving. He got a job in the kitchen at the Homestead resort, and then, in the summer of 2012, he came back to camp.

He was noticeably changed, his friends said. “A lot of us resigned ourselves to knowing that Gus was never quite going to be the Gus we’d known before,” said Walters. But so much of what had endeared him to so many still shone through.

Napps, who had played her screechy fiddle opposite him in the creek years before, was momentarily stunned when he told her he’d sold his beloved banjo.

“He said, ‘Well, I needed the money, but I built this here other banjo’”—an elaborate affair fashioned from a can, a bucket, and some salvaged wood.

gus banjo 2
Gus Deeds in 2012. Photo: Shirley Napps

And when it came to working with the campers, he was, as ever, the gentle peacemaker with a knack for cheering the lonely and engaging the loners.

Peter Shepherd had felt like one of those kids on the fringes in 2009 when he and Gus, then his counselor, bonded over horseshoes and long porch talks. Three years later, they were both on staff, and closer than ever. Gus’ quirks were there, Shepherd said. He would talk at length about his spiritual beliefs. He had a near obsession with Long John Silver’s combo No. 2—“Jesus food,” he called it—and they’d often drive half an hour north to Staunton to the nearest restaurant just for a basket of chicken and fish. But at his core, said Shepherd, Gus was gold.

“He taught me how to look at things differently,” he said. “He’d tell me you always want to show love to people. You don’t ever want to show hate, because you don’t know what those people are experiencing.”

Gus went back to William & Mary that fall, this time to study music. He excelled once again, winning the admiration of professors and classmates. This past summer, he rejoined the staff at camp, where he was still a bottomless pit of stories. He taught ornithology, entertained everyone within earshot, and ended up winning a special commendation from Coulling, the annual Director’s Award. Whatever battle he was fighting with his mind, “it seemed like he was winning,” said Walters.

His friends don’t know what derailed him this time. When he heard a few weeks ago that Gus had dropped out of school again and moved home to Bath County, Walters was worried. But nothing prepared him for the news that broke last Tuesday. Gus had committed suicide, and his father was in the hospital with knife wounds his son inflicted.

There’s a lot we don’t know about those last weeks. Had he stopped taking his medication? Was there some incident that set him back? As friends shared memories on Facebook, over the phone, and around a fire on a cold night—Gus dancing in his beat-up boots to “Down the Old Plank Road,” Gus and his weird love of Jerry Springer—there was certainty about one thing. The force behind the violent end wasn’t Gus; it was whatever had hold of him. His friends don’t sound defensive when they say it, just sure, in their grief, that he’d lost a fight.

“Something got to him,” said Shepherd. “It was part of his mind that he couldn’t control.”

Part of their certainty stems from the fact that nothing had ever seemed to cloud his love for his family, especially his father. Ben Camber, who worked with Gus this summer, remembers when Creigh Deeds dropped his son off at camp in June.

“He was helping Gus move his trunk into the bunkhouse, and as he was leaving, Gus and I were standing in the road talking and catching up,” Camber said. The son turned, hands on his hips, and watched his dad’s car disappear down the Forest Service road.

“He had a very distinct way of talking,” said Camber. “And in his most Gus-ish fashion, he sighed, and he said, ‘I really love that man.’”

  • Born Again

    You mean ‘and he was born again.”

  • dodanimal

    I believe a key part of this story is “He started taking medication”. Psychiatric medication has been proven to cause violent behavior.

    This article asks “Had he stopped taking his medication?”.
    But this is the wrong question.

    A better question to ask is what medication was he taking in the first place. Was Gus Deeds taking a medication known to cause violent behavior?

    Psychiatric medications are dangerous. They worsen mental illness in many people when taken long term (months or years), and can be a causitive factor in violence by the mentally ill.

    The fact that Gus Deeds was a gentle spirit when unmedicated should be a giant red flag that maybe the medications are to blame.

    http://www.amazon.com/Medication-Madness-Psychiatric-Violence-Suicide/dp/031256550X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385493494&sr=8-1&keywords=medication+madness

    • Darian Balcom

      Yes dodanimal – you got it!!! When will people wake up?? When will we dismantle the current “mental health” system which has only produced skyrocketing — staggering — numbers of disabled Americans receiving state and federal benefits because they were turned into chronic lifelong mental patients by psychiatric labels and “treatments.”

      • dodanimal

        People are insufferable idiots. They are clueless about the politics, corruption of medical science and medical school education.

        People are also ignorant of biochemistry and now to use nutrients to cure disease. Most people with mental illness can be easily cured by taking the right nutrients in adequate dosages.

        Conventional mental illness treatment in the US is an absolute public health disaster. Events like this tragic suicide by Gus Deeds is a perfect example of the damage that psychiatric drugs can cause.

        • Darian Balcom

          I don’t know about the nutrients but I’d have no trouble believing it’s true. I certainly do believe that the importance of diet, sleep, and exercise to our mental well-being cannot be overstated. Have you read Robert Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic”? Whitaker has brought a lot of attention to the harm caused by our modern “mental health” system. He is simply an investigative journalist. He does not propose any solutions but simply presents the facts and statistics, which are staggering. The numbers of new chronic mental patients created since the introduction of so many so-called miracle drugs. People cannot get off the drugs – they experience horrible withdrawal effects. I belong to support groups, both online and in-person, for people debilitated, their lives ruined in many cases. People are stuck on drugs that destroy all aspects of health (messing with serotonin messes with all body systems) and usually also destroy the essence of what makes a human a human – emotional capacity, but not just any emotional capacity, rather the experience of one’s true — not drug-induced — emotional reactions to events, situations, other people, etc.

  • dodanimal
  • dodanimal

    http://www.amazon.com/Medication-Madness-Psychiatric-Violence-Suicide/dp/031256550X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385493494&sr=8-1&keywords=medication+madness

    “In Medication Madness, psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin, M.D.,
    describes how people taking psychiatric medication can experience
    abnormal behavioral reactions, including suicide, violence, emotional
    breakdowns, and criminal acts. Dr. Breggin explains his concept of
    “medication spellbinding”: individuals taking psychiatric drugs may have
    no idea whatsoever that their mental conditions are deteriorating and
    that their actions are no longer under control. He proves his argument
    by documenting dozens of cases from his practice and his consultations
    in legal cases.”

  • AnneHewitt

    This comment fromt

  • M.A. Sullivan

    I, and several family members, are alive because we take anti-depressant medication. Please do not broad-brush psychiatric medications; it only enhances the stigma around mental illness.

    • Lenay

      Agree 100%

      • M.A. Sullivan

        Thank you.

    • dodanimal

      You do a disservice by shouting down and ignoring the dangers. Though of course they will not affect everyone taking psych drugs, the dangers are real. SSRI antidepressants can cause violence, suicide and murder, for example. The science is clear on that point.

      Psych drugs are hardly ever necessary. Proper diet and nutrient supplementation are highly effective and very safe for treating mental illnesses.

    • dodanimal

      “it only enhances the stigma around mental illness.”

      Quite the contrary. By asserting that some people are so messed up they need toxic, dangerous drugs to be mentally functional, you enhance the stigma.

      Mental illness is often simply a consequence of poor diets and nutrient deficiencies. They are often curable with a persistent, orthomolecular approach.

      • sam

        Utterly preposterous.Why ?I had a fine balanced diet,with vitamin and mineral supplements. And many people with bad nutritional diets are not depressed.And depression is often inherited, runs in families..

        • dodanimal

          That doesn’t undermine my point at all.

          You were probably not taking the right forms, in the right dosages. Sometimes very high dosages are needed.

          For example Dr Stoll at Harvard sometimes needed 15-20 grams of omega 3 per day to cure bipolar.

  • Lenay

    Zoloft saved my husband. He has been on it for over 12 years. Going off needed psych medications is far more a common explanation for suicide than taking psych medications, especially when you consider why they are being put on the psych medications to begin with. These campaigns against medications are dangerous and worsening the outcome in mental illness. He dropped out of school, was hiding from his life, his friends and now he is married and a great dad.

    • M.A. Sullivan

      Thank you, Lenay. I would prefer not to take meds, but they keep me alive, not happy, just normal.

    • Natalie

      as someone who works for a community services board, i am not against medication. however, medication is meant to be used in conjunction with therapy or counseling, not solely on its own, in order to make changes to more desired behaviors, thinking must be changed as well. And i say that as someone who has taken psychiatric medications, had counseling, and has worked in mental health services.

      • Lenay

        And I’m talking as an MD MPH MS. Yes they need counseling but many need medications. CSB by the way needs to move much faster. Trying to get subsequent TDOs is no longer allowed and a 6 hour clock is to hard to work with. But many CSB workers require a medical clearance on the chart before they will see the patient. Which takes the ability to medically hold the patient away which is asking for trouble. If you’re going to twiddle your thumbs then don’t take away the option of a medical hold.

        • Lenay

          Not saying you personally but referring to the three particularly inept CSB workers who weren’t trying very hard so I had to call places on my own as people (off meds for months in all three cases) needed to climb in the TV in case one, talk to J Lo in case two and get home by 430 to get on the Internet as a matter of national security.

        • dodanimal

          You say people need medications because you are completely ignorant of how to use nutrients to cure people.

          How to use nutrients is not taught in medical school.

          Medical school curricula is to a large degree designed and created by the drug industry. How does it feel to be a drug industry dupe?

    • dodanimal

      There are plenty of nutrients/vitamins that are safer and more effective than medications.

      Psych medications are hardly ever “needed”. Did you ever attempt to use nutrient supplementation instead of zoloft? Were you ever given that option? Probably not.

      Psych drugs are absolutely dangerous. Even the FDA now, belatedly, agrees that SSRI drugs can cause suicide, murder and violence. Just look at the black box warning.

      Other types of psych drugs have other dangers. And when taken of the long term, antipsychotics often make mental illness worse.

      If you really think that zoloft is absolutely necessary, you have fallen for the lies from big pharma.

      • Lenay

        He tried all sorts of things. For 8 years until his parents found him hiding under his bed. So don’t be ridiculous he needs ssri like a diabetic needs insulin. Just because meds didn’t work for you. I’m sorry it took so long to reply to your ridiculous rebuttal but I actually hold a job.

        • dodanimal

          It is preposterous to suggest that an SSRI is like insulin. Insulin is a natural, bioidentical substance produced by and needed by the body for normal functioning. SSRIs are foreign to body biochemistry.

          I have never taken meds. I take natural, healthful nutrients that optimize brain function (e.g. omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, Methyl donors etc). These natural nutrients and others can completely cure most mental illness and diseases when used skillfully and in the right dosages. Omega 3 fatty acids can cure bipolar disorder, for example. Niacin can cure schizophrenia for example.

          Im sorry to hear you are so profoundly ignorant of nutrition and how to achieve good health and brain function naturally.

    • dodanimal

      Mental illness outcomes are WORSE for those that take psych medications. Thats a scientific FACT. See the abstract below.

      QUOTE:
      “A larger percent of schizophrenia patients not on antipsychotics showed
      periods of recovery and better global functioning (p < .001).

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17502806

      Factors involved in outcome and recovery in schizophrenia patients not on antipsychotic medications: a 15-year multifollow-up study.

      Harrow M, Jobe TH.

      Source

      Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois,

      Abstract

      This prospective longitudinal 15-year multifollow-up research studied whether unmedicated patients with schizophrenia can function as well as schizophrenia patients on antipsychotic medications. If so, can differences in premorbid characteristics and personality factors account for this? One hundred and forty-five patients, including 64 with schizophrenia,
      were evaluated on premorbid variables, assessed prospectively at index
      hospitalization, and then followed up 5 times over 15 years. At each
      follow-up, patients were compared on symptoms and global outcome. A larger percent of schizophrenia patients not on antipsychotics showed periods of recovery and better global functioning (p < .001). The longitudinal data identify a subgroup of schizophrenia patients who do not immediately relapse while off antipsychotics and experience intervals of recovery. Their more favorable outcome
      is associated with internal characteristics of the patients, including
      better premorbid developmental achievements, favorable personality and
      attitudinal approaches, less vulnerability, greater resilience, and
      favorable prognostic factors. The current longitudinal data suggest not all schizophrenia patients need to use antipsychotic medications continuously throughout their lives.

      • Lenay

        You clearly didn’t read the actual article. First of all this is not a randomized control trial it was a retrospective review trying to determine characteristics of those who were able to come off medications and do okay. The schizophrenics accounted for 45 of the 150 that’s it. Of that n, even less went off meds. Those that did they attributed their success to resiliency and personality characteristics compared to others. You need to sort of understand statistics before you randomly quote studies that actually happen to contradict your opinion in full text. Congrats OB finding something that seemed to support your theory via a google search. At least it was pubmed

        • dodanimal

          I never said it was an RCT. No review board would allow a RCT of medication vs no medication.Though studies like this are needed.

          Its conclusions are relevant and consistent with a larger body of evidence that shows that long term outcomes are WORSE for those that take psychiatric medications. For example, in the decades BEFORE psychiatric drugs were used, long term recovery rates for schizophrenia and psychosis were HIGHER than today. Why is that?

          Psychiatric drugs are dangerous and CAUSE mental illness. They also cause murder-suicide events like the one that took Gus Deed’s life.

          The public has fallen for the lies and propaganda promoted by the drug industry.

    • Darian Balcom

      When a person commits an SSRI (psych drug)-induced murder or suicide, the act typically occurs within the first few days or weeks on the drug, or within a short time after either stopping the drug or lowering the dose. Thus, it has happened thousands of times that a violent act has been blamed on the person “stopping their medication” — and viewed as proof that the person needed the medication — when in fact the act was 100% caused by the medication itself, in that, had the person never been on the medication, the event would not have occurred. Prescribers and the public were lied to by the drug makers. Prescribers were not told that stopping a drug safely requires a very gradual tapering or lowering of the dose (although for some people even a very slow and gradual taper can be a very difficult and painful process. Online and in-person support groups for people who are struggling to “come off” their PRESCRIBED drugs are sprouting up everywhere.).

  • Wha? Chinango

    Thanks for this. For those of us who didn’t know him it’s a compelling presentation of a very sympathetic young man. It makes the event even more tragic. It’s unfortunate that others seem to regard this as an invitation for spurious pseudo-science rants.

  • Ruth

    Was there something preventing Deeds from taking his son to the UVa ER (for example) since there was a bed available there – I mean something in the system prohibiting him from doing so (as I’m sure the son would have been resistant.) If I can’t get physical medical care at one hospital or clinic, I would go to another one…..can the same be done with mental health issues? I don’t understand the mental health care system and if anyone can explain the process, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

    • Graelyn_Brashear

      The short answer is that it’s complicated. Reporters all over Virginia have been giving themselves crash courses in our public mental health care system in the last week; I know I have. Courteney Stuart’s story on where that system fell short in Gus’ case—and what policymakers are trying to do to find fixes—explains a lot: http://www.c-ville.com/no-vacancy-in-wake-of-deeds-tragedy-questions-focus-on-mental-health-care/#.UpZceGRKmv1 Count on seeing more stories about this in the future.

      • John Giuliano

        After all, it’s on the agenda and it’s an uphill battle.

      • Darian Balcom

        Graelyn – I hope you decide to delve into this. Dodanimal above said it best — the fact that Gus was a gentle spirit when unmedicated pretty much says it all. But all the information is out there. There are many books on the harm done by psychiatry, in general, and many sources confirming the causal link between psych drugs and violent behavior.

      • dodanimal

        Please try to find out what medications Gus was taking prior to this incident. Was he put on a new drug, or did he change his dosage prior to the incident? This information is potentially very important. The public deserves to know.

        • seriouslyshutup

          The public doesn’t need to know fucking anything. How about you have some respect for his privacy.

          • dodanimal

            Bullshit.

            The public has a right to know about the dangers of drugs. Especially, for example, other people that may take the same drugs.

            Privacy? The guy is DEAD.

            You are an idiot.

          • seriouslyshutup

            Sure the public has the right to know about the dangers of drugs, but absolutely nothing that specifically talks about Gus’s or anyone else’s treatment.

            Everything you’ve posted on this article is completely irrelevant.
            This was written to memorialize Gus, not to provoke a political argument about drugs and the mental health care system.

            PS “You are an idiot”? Good one.
            Go on being as unnecessary and insensitive as you possibly can.
            I won’t waste any more minutes of my life on you.

          • dodanimal

            This is a new article about a news item that is relevant to the dangers of psychiatric drugs. Commenting on the dangers of psychiatric drug use is entirely appropriate.

            If a discussion about drug dangers cannot happen here, then where can it happen?

            “Sure the public has the right to know about the dangers of drugs, but
            absolutely nothing that specifically talks about Gus’s or anyone else’s
            treatment.”

            LOL! You just contradicted yourself.

            MORON.

    • Lenay

      Not against his will. He was there on a temporary detention order. It’s issued by a magistrate. That’s 4 hours with a possible 2 hour extension. TDO allows sheriffs deputies to be there handcuffing and holding the person against their will. The CSB person then comes and determines if they are in fact a danger to themselves or others. If they agree after the eval they have whatever time is left on the six hour clock to get an accepting psychiatrist to agree based on the CSB official that they are in fact a danger. The psych then issues

      • Lenay

        A TDO which is for 24-72 hours. But without an accepting psychiatrist who agrees once the six hours expire the ECO (the initial 6 hour hold) expires and the sheriffs deputies uncuff the patient and they are free to go. By the way my first post says TDO but its actually an ECO (emergency containment order) that the magistrate issues. TDOs are initiated by a psychiatrist and last longer. Medical doctors can only issue medical holds (such as for delirium) but not psychiatric holds. Unfortunately many CSB workers require medical doctors to document medical clearance on the chart before they will see the patient and therefore we have our only option to buy more time taken away.

  • L. Woodworth

    Thank you so much for this article, Graelyn. In the Nature Camp family, I had heard only good things about Gus. It’s nice to learn more about this great guy, especially given the circumstances.

  • get a life people

    everyone of you people that is posting on this about the medications for anti depressants should be very ashamed of yourselves…. not a single one of you has mentioned anything about feeling sorry for this great and loving family. If you want to go talk about how psychiatric medicines are bad, go do it on a health forum. Whether it was the meds or not that cause this terrible tragedy to happen, this isn’t the place for random people to sit here and talk about the meds they took and how they have changed their lives. The reason why i say that is because it doesn’t matter, why? you ask because every medicine affects people differently, so you can’t generalize yourself with other people around the world, the facts are that Gus was fighting inner demons (bi-polar, or any other psychiatric diagnosis) and sadly he lost the fight, and it caused harm to another person. Another thing is that this happening it has become a wake up call to the government and the state of Virginia, because if Criegh hadn’t been as popular as he was from his political standings, this wouldn’t be a major headline.

    Before anyone tries to jump on my case about this, I was one of Gus’s music students that he would tutor while he was in high school, him and I became friends, through playing the trombone, and I was one of the few that were lucky enough to be able to see him the sunday night before this tragedy happened.

    • dodanimal

      You sound like the NRA demanding that people do not talk about gun laws after gun-related violence.

      Fact is that Gus took medications, and then became violent. The use of the drugs is very relevant and entirely appropriate to discuss in this PUBLIC forum.

      There is overwhelming evidence that psychiatric drugs lead to violence. Some of this evidence is described in this book, for example:

      http://www.amazon.com/Medication-Madness-Psychiatric-Violence-Suicide/dp/031256550X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385854114&sr=1-1&keywords=medication+madness

      But it sounds like some people cannot handle the truth.

      • Family

        Just thought I would clear something up as a member of Gus’s family: He was NOT ON MEDICATION at the time of the attack. He quit taking his meds at the beginning of May 2013. I agree with “get a life” – stop using this as a forum for preaching – comment on some other article or a health forum. This article is meant to honor someone who touched the lives of many – shame on you, Mr. “Fact is that Gus took medications and became violent.” You don’t know ANYTHING.

        • dodanimal

          This is not a memorial. Its a public news article about a newsworthy event of national significance.

          I will comment wherever I choose.

          I find it bizarre that you would be offended by a discussion about the role of psychiatric drugs in precipitating violence. You would rather focus on putting the blame on Gus Deeds than investigate possible external causes?

          This isnt “preaching”. I am correcting misconceptions and an irresponsible media that does not question the bogus story told to the public about the dangers of psychiatric drugs. its an important story that needs to be told. Millions of americans are being put on dangerous psychiatric drugs at great cost in lives lost and lives destroyed.

          I know plenty about psychiatric drugs.

          Thank you for setting the record on medication use. That is important information that should have been reported.

        • ja836

          Family, first – I am sorry you have suffered from this tragic event.
          But while dodanimal does seem even a little colder than I am with his responses about dangerous SSRI medications – he is not doing this for his own benefit. If he is like me he is just very concerned about SSRIs.
          I have been studying these medications for a very long time too. It seems that in every mass shooting there is a lot of discussion about mental health and they might mention some medication but most of these shooters have been on these meds at some point. Many of these meds are required by the FDA to carry black box warnings of their dangers.
          My concern is like dodanimals – if we continue to give money to mental health will more people be put on these meds? Prozac has been found to cause aggressive behavior in minnows that are ingesting this in our water! How many people have to be on these meds for them to be getting into fish. It is a very serious concern.
          Now they are using these meds even more extensively for “off-label” purposes. Chantix to stop smoking is an anti-depressant. It comes with nearly all the same very dangerous side effects that people seem to ignore.
          So, I have questions. You said Gus had been off his meds since May 2013. These meds are highly, highly addictive and can cause more problems if patients stop taking them. Most patients do not like taking them because they cause them to have strange thoughts. When Gus was taken back to the hospital just before this happened was he put back on meds? That is supposed to be a very dangerous time – when someone first starts taking them or the prescription is changed.

        • freakadazoo

          Thanks for your info…but when things are said like: “The system failed him”…it really involves us all. Many of us have or do take similar medications…and have issues with them..and how freely they are given out. So before you judge some of us for our convictions or opinions..maybe you should do your own research on the harms of some of these medications…mental illness is just out of hand in our country..and this tragic story brings many of us into the discussion…sorry for you loss.

      • freakadazoo

        totally agree.

  • Sam

    Anti-depressant meds saved my life. It is that simple. How dare those-often not ill them selves, who condemn something that has, by total numbers,done far more good than harm and scare off those most in need of help. See your doctor.

    • dodanimal

      Consider yourself lucky. Many, perhaps Gus Deeds, are not so lucky.

      Just because the dangerous drugs helped you does not mean you are justified in shouting down those of us who recognize the dangers and advocate safer alternatives.

      Natural, nutrition-based approaches would likely have worked better and with less risk.

      • Sam

        Your use of the phrase “shout-down” (twice, see above) in response to civil responses to you, happily reveals to any reader a great deal about your mental style and, I’d opine, over all world view and general validity of your opinions.

  • Darian Balcom

    It’s a fact that many psychiatric drugs cause suicide and murder-suicide. To those of us who have been awake to this for a long time, this tragic case just represents more victims of psychiatry. Psychiatry’s “treatments” are causing, not curing, gun violence, chemical imbalances, and chronic, lifelong mental patient status. If you don’t believe this, it’s all over the internet. Google or Youtube: Gwen Olsen, David Healy, Peter Gotzsche, Robert Whitaker, Ann Blake-Tracy, the website Mad in America, the website ssristories. Google “SSRI suicide” or “SSRI murder suicide.” Robert Whitaker nails almost every unbelievable truth about the harm done by our modern so-called “mental health” system in his interview on Natural News. Check it out.

    • freakadazoo

      I agree. I will bet this poor kid was not simply on anti-depressants……they most likely had him on “cocktails”…..anti-psychotic, seizure med etc……as much as i feel for the family and their loss…..they might also consider that the meds were actually part of the problem. Why so many Americans are mentally ill…is a mystery. Keeping these victims in an institution is not a solution. Very sad story…may Gus RIP.

  • Sam

    Please beware of amateur “experts” pushing their ill-researched convictions on the basis of partial, biased web “research” (such as citation of one scientific study). Doctors are intelligent, educated and caring professionals. If you are suffering pain, consult one.

    • dodanimal

      Most conventional doctors are miseducated by drug company propaganda. Drug companies have huge influence over the writing and content of medical textbooks and “standards of care” accepted by official medical organizations. Doctors are generally not independent thinkers. They classify patients by diagnosis and then proceed with treatments selected and promoted by the drug companies.

      There are many natural, nutrition-based treatment protocols that are safe and effective and yet are never taught in medical schools and are shouted down by drug-industry-backed medical organizations.

      The practice of medicine in the US is profoundly corrupt.

  • So Sorry

    Suzy, I’m so so sorry for you and your family’s loss. What happened is tragic and the world has loss another great man. You all are in my prayers. Remember the good times, you’ll meet him again in heaven.

  • Socialism: Organized Evil

    What substance was he abusing?

  • Katie Jo McMillan

    I saw the 60 minutes yesterday where they talked about Gus and it led me to read this article.. Gus was a counsler of mine and made my time at Nature Camp so much more enjoyable. May he rest in peace and hopefully not be defined by this single moment. Pushing aside all the talk about the benifits or problems with medication, we lost an amazing person to a mental disorder and thats what these comments should be focused on, not dwelling on what could have saved him but moving forward into helping those with similar issues.

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