by Roy Exum
posted November 15, 2009
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.