ANTIDEPRESSANT: Speaker of the House in Georgia Legislature Attempts Suicide

Paragraph 7 reads:  “Sure, he had been under a doctor’s
care, taking medication, but apparently  ‘the black
dog,’ as Winston Churchill once called depression, started
howling so fiercely last Sunday that one of Georgia’s top legislators couldn’t
silence it. Those who suffer from depression are the first to know it is
hardly a simple disease.”

http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_163177.asp

Roy Exum: A Suicide Is Foiled
by Roy Exum
posted November 15,
2009

Roy Exum
Glenn Richardson is the Speaker of

the House in the Georgia legislature. He has been elected to represent those in
the Dallas/Hiram part of the state seven straight times and, when he became

Speaker in 2003, he was the first Republican chosen since Reconstruction.
Earlier this year, he was unanimously chosen as the legislature’s leader for the
third straight time.

In short, he doesn’t fail at many things, but a week
ago he tried to commit suicide. Because of quick action by emergency teams in

Paulding County, his life was spared and, in a moving story that appeared in
Saturday’s Atlanta newspaper, he courageously admitted he fights severe
depression and will use the near-tragedy to better suicide prevention.

His was hardly a publicity stunt or a novel way of attracting
voters. He doesn’t need that. But the anguish in his coming forward, readily
admitting his human flaw, shows that if depression can lay its thick and
suffocating blanket on state legislator Glenn Richardson, it can be a very black
cloud over any of us.

“While depression often seems to be resolved on
occasion, when personal trials or tribulations arise, it flares back up,”
Richardson said in his public statement. “That is what occurred with me. My
depression became so severe that I took substantial steps to do harm to myself
and to take my own life. I am thankful that because of medical intervention I
have instead been able to now receive help and support.”

A couple of

years ago Richardson and his wife were divorced in a high-profile case of a
marriage that was “irretrievably broken.” The couple has three children and
apparently Glenn has never shaken the pain of the divorce. Anyone who has ever
gone through a divorce can understand that, most especially if grief-stricken
children are watching.

“I ask that the media use discernment if they
report this and remember my friends and family who are also hurting,” his
statement read. “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.”

Sure,
he had been under a doctor’s care, taking medication, but apparently “the black
dog,” as Winston Churchill once called depression, started howling so fiercely
last Sunday that one of Georgia’s top legislators couldn’t silence it. Those who
suffer from depression are the first to know it is hardly a simple
disease.

So instead of giving in to the problem and giving up his
standing in the Georgia House after Sunday night’s scare, Glenn is now going
“public,” urging others to “stay in the game” rather than commit what has been
called “life’s most selfish act” because suicide leaves so many living victims

in its wake.

Both Republicans and Democrats applauded his courage Friday.
Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek), called Richardson a “brilliant
political leader and dear friend.”

“Most importantly, each of us is
praying for him and his family,” Burkhalter told newspaper reporters. “His
willingness to share this difficult experience clearly demonstrates his amazing
courage. Speaker Richardson is a true champion, and we in the House of

Representatives look forward to his continued leadership and
recovery.”

DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) is the House Minority leader and
added his “thoughts and prayers are with Glenn and his family. I am glad he
sought the help that he needed to. People need to know many people suffer from
depression and there is help that can be provided for that. I am thankful he got
the help he needed.”

So the lesson is not to point out how the strong
have fallen, but rather that those who suffer are not alone. There is help
available no matter where you are, who you are, or how insignificant the disease
might tend to make you feel you are.

The bottom line is that somebody
needs each of us. In the state of Georgia literally millions rely on Glen
Richardson’s wisdom and leadership. He’ll be the first to tell you today that no
matter how black the darkness may be, there is a way out of the maze of severe
depression if you’ll call on others to hold your hand until the professionals
who walk among us can cease its trembling.

Thank God that is what Glenn
Richardson did just last
Sunday.

royexum@aol.com

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