26 August 2014
Since last November, when Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds was stabbed repeatedly by his mentally ill son, Gus, who then committed suicide, mental illness has risen to a higher prominence in both lawmaking and community awareness.
Charlie Fawcett, director of Region Ten’s Fluvanna Counseling Center in downtown Palmyra, has noticed an increase in concerns from county residents regarding mental illness within the community. “It’s more on people’s minds,” he said.
So he and Lt. Von Hill of the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office are working to bring more transparency to how their agencies go about taking custody of those who are mentally ill – and how citizens can become involved if they see a need.
The first thing Fawcett and Hill want Fluvanna residents to know is that any member of the public can go to law enforcement with concerns about a person exhibiting symptoms of mental illness in crisis. “It can be a family member, a physician, law enforcement – anyone who has knowledge,” said Fawcett.
A person with concerns should go to the sheriff’s office, said Hill, any hour of the day or night. Via video link, the citizen and law enforcement would speak with a magistrate about specific knowledge regarding the potential crisis state of the mentally ill person in question. “If the magistrate determines those circumstances meet the criteria for an emergency custody order, then he or she will issue one,” Hill said.