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
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
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
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.