CMR graduate shares experience with student body


Mike Woods with his dog, Courage, during one of the assemblies on April 16.

Although Courage has a full-time job helping Michael Woods on a daily basis, the Golden retriever’s attention was soon focused solely on a 3-year-old girl. On April 26 in the C.M. Russell fieldhouse, the 2008 graduate returned to his old stomping grounds to give a speech on suicide prevention with his daughter Ana providing background entertainment.
With suicide being the leading cause of teen deaths, Woods said it was important to educate students.
For every one suicide at least 16 other people are affected, he said. His suicide attempt in 2007 affected his friends, family, and teachers.
“Suicide prevention for all is important,” he said.
Woods said he was excited to return to CMR for the speech. He spoke about how proud he was to return with his daughter and fiancée alongside him.
“I’m very excited, proud, and privileged to be back in hopes of passing on my knowledge to help at least one person,” Woods said.
On the day of the assembly, sophomore Vanessa Luongo was eagerly awaiting Woods’ speech. There is always someone considering suicide, she said, and she believes it is good that someone who actually has experience with suicide came back to talk to the students.
“He experienced it at our age; he understands. It’s not some random adult saying the same facts and statistics over again,” Luongo said.
While watching Woods talk she also noted his daughter Ana playing with his service dog, Courage. While she joked that, “You know you’ve made it if you have a dog,” she said it actually helped show the students that life can, and will, get better.
Like Luongo, junior Justin Sowa thought it was inspirational to see Woods’ daughter with Courage while her dad gave his speech.
“Watching his daughter Ana play with Courage was very moving,” he said.
Though watching the 3-year-old was entertaining, that wasn’t the only part of the speech that Sowa enjoyed. He felt that it was inspirational and very well put, but he was shocked to see how many people at CMR have been affected by suicide.
And while Sowa found some of Woods’ jokes to be a bit crass and unprofessional, he still felt that the speech was helpful to the students.
“I hope that Michael Woods and people like him continue to return to CMR to help the students that we would least expect to be affected by suicide and raise awareness for everyone.”