On August 6, 2003, Woody died of a Zoloft-induced suicide at age 37. He was not depressed, nor did he have any history of mental illness or depression. He died after taking the drug a total of 5 weeks with the dosage being doubled shortely before his death. He was given the antidepressant from his general physician for “insomnia.”

Woody loved life and all that this world had to offer. He was a compassionate, loyal husband, son, brother, uncle, godfather and friend. He had endless energy, a constant smile and a laugh that could be heard a mile away. He truly cared for others.
He had a successful career in sales. Plus, he was active in community, social and politics, always willing to fight for injustice and others less fortunate. Woody truly inspired others to be the best they could be.

Woody went into his regular internist on June 30, 2003, because he was having trouble sleeping, in part because he had just started a new position as vice president of sales with a start up company about two months prior. He was excited about this dream opportunity to make his mark on the business world. Along with this excitement came some stress and difficulty sleeping.

This was the first time he'd ever gone to a doctor for this sort of issue. Woody’s doctor gave him three weeks worth of Zoloft samples and told him to come back for a follow-up appointment after the samples were finished. Within a couple of days, he experienced every known side effect of Zoloft (e.g. night sweats, diarrhea from the time he got up in the morning, trembling hands, and anxiety worsened). Woody was extremely sensitive to foreign substances in his body- he didn’t even like to take over-the-counter medications (like Sudafed, Excedrin, or Nyquil), or to drink caffeine, or have more than one glass of wine or beer.

One of the most significant side effects Woody was experiencing from Zoloft was an extremely uncomfortable feeling, called akathisia. Woody was acting out of character in terms of increased agitation and irritability. He was also very restless, which caused him not to sleep, as well as created a feeling that he always needed to keep moving.

Shortly before his death, Woody came home crying after driving around all day. He sat in a fetal position on the kitchen floor with his hands pressing around his head like a vice saying, “Help me. Help me. I don’t know what’s happening to me. I am losing my mind. It’s like my head is outside my body looking in.” Over the course of the next week, in typical Woody fashion, he was looking for ways to “beat this feeling in my head.“ Two weeks later, a total of 5 weeks on the drug, Woody was found hanging from the rafters in the garage. Woody’s family and friends only wish we knew then what we know now. It wasn’t Woody’s head. It was the drug.