House Speaker Glenn Richardson called his parents in Douglas County last Sunday and told them he had taken sleeping pills and that it “was too late to do anything,” according to the 911 recording of the call.
Richardson’s mother, Merty, called 911 on Nov. 8 and said her son was conscious and breathing but said he purposely took the pills. According to a police report issued late Monday, Richardson was found in his bathroom with a “silver revolver sitting on the counter in front of him.” Richardson was semi-conscious and did not respond to verbal commands.
There was also a suicide note on yellow paper and another note “related to the suicide,” although details were not included in the report released by the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.
Richardson issued a news release late Friday in which he acknowledged he had tried to kill himself. He said he has suffered from depression for more than two years since becoming estranged and then divorced from his wife, Susan, was regularly seeing a physician and was taking prescription medication.
According to the incident report, Richardson was taken to a Paulding County hospital.
Mary Ann Burdette, 39, of Acworth, was listed on the report as a witness. When reached late Monday she said she was a “close family friend and at this time I would rather not give a comment.”
A Georgia House employee, who has spoken to Richardson, said Monday that Richardson seemed encouraged by his recovery and was “feeling much better.” He indicated that he had no plans to resign from the House or the speakership and that friends and family were keeping him company.
Richardson is speaking Monday evening at a fund raiser in south Georgia for Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Albany).
“This is a small private gathering of friends of Ed Rynders and he wants to support his caucus member and long time friend,” Richardson’s spokesman Marshall Guest said. ” The speaker intends to maintain a limited schedule.”
As speaker of the House, Richardson commands great authority to influence nearly every facet of state policy and an annual state budget of more than than $18.5 billion.
Richardson has not spoken to the media since the attempted suicide, although in the past year he has largely quit speaking with reporters.
In his statement last week, Richardson said he was “thankful that because of medical intervention I have instead been able to now receive help and support.”
“I fully believe this has and will continue to push me to find my best self and use my position of leadership to raise awareness and let others know they are not alone. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,” he said.
Suicide prevention organizations praised Richardson for coming forward and admitting to his troubles.
“We hope his courage will bring much-needed awareness to this public health crisis,” said Christina Owens, area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in metro Atlanta.
Suicide and mental disorders such as depression, she said, “are surrounded by stigma and misconceptions which prevent many people from seeking the help they desperately need.”
Richardson and his wife divorced in February 2008, a year after Democrats publicly accused him of an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist.
Richardson is a former county attorney for Paulding County and is currently a board member of WestSide Bank in Hiram, a 3-year-old institution that is reeling from real estate losses, like many Georgia banks. WestSide lost nearly $3 million in the third quarter and saw its pool of bad loans reach about $19 million. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Marietta Republican, is also on the board.
Richardson was elected to the state House in 1996, and in 2003, Republicans elected Richardson minority leader. When the GOP took over the House following the 2004 elections, Richardson was chosen as speaker. As speaker, Richardson has worked to grow the Republican majority while the GOP has learned to govern. Richardson has consolidated power and on occasion has punished fellow Republicans who did not back his moves.
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