911 tape details Richardson's suicide attempt

ATLANTA - House Speaker Glenn Richardson took sleeping pills in a failed attempt to kill himself and then called his mother to tell her he loved her, according to a recording of the 911 call released on Monday.


It was his mother, Merty Richardson, who called 911 on the evening of Nov. 8. A recording of the 911 call was released by the Paulding County Sheriff's Department on Monday in response to an open records request.

"It's my son, Glenn Richardson, the speaker of the House of Representatives," a distraught-sounding Merty Richardson told the 911 dispatcher.

Richardson's mother said her son had taken sleeping pills on purpose.

"He had gotten very, very upset," she said. "He called to tell us that he loved us and that it was too late to do anything."

Sheriffs deputies arrived at Richardson's Hiram home and found the Republican lawmaker on the edge of the bathtub in his master bathroom with a gun nearby. There was also a suicide note and "another note related to the suicide." The contents of the notes were not revealed.

Authorities said he was semiconscious and was taken to the hospital.

In a statement released late Friday, Richardson revealed the suicide attempt and said he has struggled with depression for 2 1/2 years, since his separation and divorce from his wife, Susan. He said he is under a physician's care and is taking prescription medication.

On Monday Richardson's spokesman, Marshall Guest, told The Associated Press that Richardson "intends to continue on as speaker."

He was heading to a fundraiser Monday night in Southwest Georgia for Republican Rep. Ed Rynders.

"He wants to support his caucus members and plans to keep a limited schedule," Guest said.

Rynders said that he was "honored" to have the speaker at his event, which was organized long before recent events put Richardson in the spotlight.

"The response here in southwest Georgia has been overwhelmingly compassionate," Rynders said.

"This is an illness that can affect anyone and I think people here recognize that and wish him well."

Christina Owens, area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Metro Atlanta, praised Richardson for coming forward.

"Unfortunately, suicide and mental disorders such as depression are surrounded by stigma and misconceptions which prevent many people from seeking the help they desperately need," Owens said in a statement.

News of Richardson's suicide try continued to reverberate on Monday among state leaders.

Gov. Sonny Perdue told WSB-TV a decision about his fate as the leader of the Georgia House is up to the 180 legislators in the chamber.

"His health is more important than any political decision," Perdue said while in Dubai on a trade mission. "While he's currently broken he has a great ability to come back."

The combative Richardson survived a coup attempt in 2008 from state Rep. David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who had questioned the speaker's temperament.

"I will be the first to tell you I have made mistakes along the way. But I will tell you this also, I have learned from the mistakes," Richardson told caucus members who voted to let him keep his gavel.

At the end of the 2008 legislative session, Richardson angrily called for the ouster of Casey Cagle after the lieutenant governor helped kill his tax cut plan. He called on Cagle "to stand up and be a man." In 2007, Richardson accused Perdue of showing his "backside" after a feud with the governor over tax cuts.

This year Richardson kept a low profile and avoided any outbursts.

Richardson helped engineer the GOP takeover of the House in 2004 and won the speaker's post soon afterward. He's the first Republican to lead the chamber since Reconstruction.