Last night, Jaye Watson with 11Alive had an eight-minute segment with former Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson and their website has a summary of the interview in which he discussed the end of his tenure as Georgia’s first Republican Speaker in the modern era.
Richardson admitted to having had an affair with a lobbyist and said, “I made a lot of foolish mistakes and I fell.”
Watson sums up the good and bad of Richardson’s tenure. “Glenn Richardson’s story is part Gree tragedy, part tabloid. He engineered a political machine that could only be stopped by one person, himself.”
“You start to believe that, perhaps, the rules aren’t meant for you,” said Richardson, “The longer I was speaker, the more pressure came on, the more stress, and then I lost my family in the divorce. The wheels started coming off.”
Richardson discusses his descent into depression and suicide attempt in the hope that
“If one person heard me say, ‘you mean to tell me a guy that could be the Speaker of the House, one of the most powerful men in Georgia, wanted to die? Wow, maybe my uncle, my brother, my cousin that I’m worried about could do the same thing.’ And here’s the answer,” Richardson said. “Reach out to them, try to understand and love them.”
At the end of his days as Speaker, Richardson says he was called into a secret meeting at the Governor’s Mansion that included many of his closest political allies; they told him that if he stayed as Speaker, he might endanger the Republican Party in Georgia.
Finally, Richardson reviews his life as it stands today:
Things have improved for Glenn Richardson. Despite making what he says is one third the salary he used to, he is still working as an attorney. His life has returned to normal and two of his children live with him in Hiram.
“I feel good today. I still get emotional. But I’m not depressed. I’m sad. I’m upset at some of the stuff because of what I did, but it will be okay. I just live differently. I don’t get in a rush to get things done so much. I stop I look I take it in and enjoy it. Simple things. Drinking coffee out on that back deck.”
Kudos to Speaker Richardson for speaking out on this important issue, both for history’s sake, for blaming no one else, and for discussing the issues of depression and suicide.
Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States and in 2008, the last year for which I could find data, 981 Georgians took their lives. The highest rate of suicide in 2008 was in the age group from 45-54 years and is the third-leading cause of death among those aged 15-24.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.
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