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Monday, November 16, 2009 - 4:07pm

Richardson 911 Tapes Released

House Speaker Glenn Richardson took sleeping pills on Sunday November 8 in a failed attempt to kill himself. He called his mother to tell her he loved her, according to a recording of the 911 call released.

His mother, Merty Richardson, called 911 . A recording of the 911 call was released by the Paulding County Sheriff's Department in response to an open records request.

Sheriff's deputies arrived at Richardson's Hiram home and found Richardson 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 semi-conscious 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. Richardson 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."

News of Richardson's suicide attempt 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.

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.

For analysis on the potential political fallout for Richardson, listen to Rickey Bevington's talk with analyst Tom Crawford here.

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