On July 16th, 2008, Tara (Olmstead-Kinsella) Dennee got a phone call saying her dad had taken his own life. Her dad, Wayne Olmstead, was only 50 years old at the time of his death. He left behind a wife, a daughter (Tara), a granddaughter, 3 step-children, 9 step-grandchildren and many friends.
Wayne worked for 29 years at Camillus Cutlery. The company closed their doors in 2007 after losing too much business to overseas manufacturers. Wayne was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his early 40s. According to mayoclinic, “bipolar disorder – sometimes called manic-depressive disorder – causes mood swings that range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania. When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may only occur a few times a year, or as often as several times a day. In some cases, bipolar disorder causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time”. With proper medication and counseling, the disorder can usually be kept under control. Wayne was able to live a productive life with the medications and counseling. When Camillus Cutlery closed Wayne lost his health insurance coverage and in turn he lost his medical care.
Wayne scrambled to find employment that would pay the household bills. He worked a few temporary jobs as well as taking on side jobs as he could find them. Eventually he couldn’t keep up with all the bills and ended up losing his house, including most of his possessions as they bought a small mobile home to live in. He worked hard to make the mobile home a “home” for himself and his wife. He painted walls, built an enclosed porch, and they landscaped the small yard. Things just didn’t seem to make him feel “good” as they once did.
During this time Wayne reached out for help several times. He spent some time in the psychiatric units of area hospitals trying to feel better. He made one serious attempt at taking his life and was given electronic shock therapy. He still just didn’t feel “right”. After watching everything he worked so hard for his whole life slip away from him, he hit one of his “lows” and wasn’t able to pull himself out of it this time. Instead of reaching our for help, he made a decision that changed his family and friends’ lives forever. If they only knew this would be the “final” cry out for help, things may have been different.
Tara, his daughter, as well as everybody else, was left with many unanswered questions. Why? Was it really that bad? How could he do this to us? Was there something we could have done differently? Tara researched mental disorders and suicide rates and was shocked at the statistics. She decided to start a nonprofit organization that would bring this horrible reality into the light.
Visit Tara’s Page on this site to read more about her personal story and her own struggles with depression and mental illness.