Kate Spade and the Growing Suicide Epidemic
When you think of Kate Spade, you probably picture eccentric, colorful handbags and accessories. What you probably never imagined was Spade turning the product on herself and taking her own life.
The fashion designer founded Kate Spade New York in 1993 after working as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle Magazine. Three years later, the company opened its first shop in New York City. However, as time moved on, Spade began to separate from her business. In 1999, Kate and her husband, Andy Spade, sold a little more than half of the brand to Neiman Marcus. Eight years later in 2007, they gave the company over to Liz Claiborne, Inc. where Deborah Lloyd took over as president and chief creative officer. The brand continues to be popular today.
According to her husband, Spade had been battling severe depression for six years. He mentioned that the two were living apart amidst some marital problems. He denied this as the cause of her suicide, though, saying that there was no legal separation or divorce and that they were two “best friends trying to work through their problems in the best way they knew how.”
Despite having actively sought help, Andy Spade said there was no indication or warning of his wife’s suicidal thinking. Her brother in law, David Spade, expressed similar disbelief. According to him, Kate was always “sharp and quick on her feet” and could make him “laugh so hard.”
Unfortunately, Kate Spade is one among a growing suicide epidemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. It claimed 45,000 lives in 2016 alone and is one of three of those causes that continues to go up instead of down. While we tend to talk about suicide more when it comes to celebrities, it happens to everyday people, too. It doesn’t discriminate.
Mental illness sucks. It’s like a really genius book (bet you never thought you’d hear it described that way, huh?). It blurs the lines between truth and fiction and feeds you lies that are so convincing they seem real. It’s hard living inside your own brain when you have a mental illness. But remember, it is not your fault. Genetics and chemical imbalances are at work here, and try as you might, they’re beyond your control. What you do control, though, is how you handle your brains when they seek out and magnify life’s cracks and flaws to make them more resounding. Suicide is never the way out. Time is nature’s best pair of glasses, and what hurts now might not hurt in ten years or even ten months.
I won’t feed you cliches, but I will tell you to listen. Our culture is big on being the first to comment, but I think we fall short when it comes to listening to others. Listen to what people are saying. Better yet, listen to what they’re not saying. Suicide isn’t as easy as walking around with a blinking red sign reading “suicidal.” Mental illness and the stigma around it prevents people from getting help, but this stuff really matters. Just like you.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IS THINKING ABOUT SUICIDE, CALL 1-800-273-8255.