SAN DIEGO, June 12, 2018–Hearing about the suicide by hanging of beautiful, creative and successful 55-year-old Kate Spade, known for her creative handbags and other colorful accessories, was truly shocking.
Public personas can be misleading
Why would anyone so creatively gifted, enormously wealthy, surrounded with family and friends and seemingly healthy do such a tragic thing?
This tragedy may point out that public image is anything but the complete truth of a personal life and the struggle with internal demons.
In a quote from the late Kate Spade’s husband, Andy Spade, published in Washington Post,
“Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years. She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives…There was no indication and no warning that she would do this.”
Spade went on to say that there was no substance abuse of any kind nor any business problems leading to his late wife’s suicide. However, Spade was considered high strung and prone to anxiety, allegedly refusing to seek early treatment for fear of tarnishing her public image.
As her death created greater interest in her seemingly happy life, the unfortunate truth about her marriage came into question.
Reported in the Washington Post, Andy Spade expressed that he and his late wife were the “best of friends” and not legally separated, though were living apart “and trying to work their problems through”.
Separated for over 10 months, it might be possible that rumors of pending divorce of their over-three decade business and personal partnership, which included 24-years marriage and birth of their only child, led to ever-increasing despondency.
Recognize the signs
Loss of relationships is cited by the CDC as a Risk Factor for Suicide–and is among many of the following indicators:
-Family history of suicide
-Family history of child maltreatment
-Previous suicide attempts
-History of mental disorders particularly clinical depression
-History of alcohol and substance abuse
-Feelings of helplessness
-Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
-Cultural and religious beliefs that suicide is noble
-Local epidemics of suicide
-Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
-Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
-Access to lethal methods
-Unwillingness to seek help because of stigma
Suicide – An American epidemic
Considered the 10th leading cause of death in America, with more than approximately 40,000 suicide-related deaths reported each year, suicide rates have increased approximately 25 to 30 percent in 20 years as of 2016, reported in CNN as cited by the CDC.
This tragic epidemic could possibly indicate that there is something aberrant in American society which creates widespread anxiety and depression, which might be due in part to the sensationalizing of tragedies such as the death of Kate Spade by the media.
“What people don’t really know is that there is research that shows the media can reduce suicide,” laments John Draper, Director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in an interview published in usatoday.com.
Draper further says that “What creates a contagion effect is when the media focus mostly on the suicide and the way the person killed themselves. If people are more open about talking about coping through suicidal experiences, and the media highlights those stories, the evidence is very clear that this has a very positive effect on getting people through a suicidal crisis.”
How to Get help
Moreover, the CDC published Protective Factors which aid and support those contemplating suicide with the goal of helping to prevent it:
-Effective clinical care for mental, physical and substance abuse disorders
-Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for thos seeking help
-Family and community support (connectedness)
-Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
-Skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
-Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation
Family and friends may also look for signs of any interest in suicide, with one of the greatest being overt about the desire to die or kill oneself. It is critical to pay attention and believe what is being heard when suicidal thoughts are being expressed. Be aware of bouts of depression and/or substance abuse problems.
Additionally, post-traumatic stress from acts of war, spousal abuse, and other traumatic events could spark the desire to commit suicide at any point in time throughout in response to a variety of stressors.
If you or someone you love is exhibiting suicidal tendencies or talking about death, do not hesitate to reach out for help from a qualified physician or mental health professional.
National organizations that provide support and direction:
American Association of Suicidology
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1 800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide – A tragedy that can happen in any home
The tragic death of Kate Spade brought home to every American that suicide can occur even for those who are highly prominent and financially successful–those who appear to have it all.
Suicide is a human issue, impacting many human lives at its various stages–it does not discriminate based on gender, age, race, religion or socioeconomic status.
For the late Kate Spade, who is iconic for her original designs in handbags, shoes, houseware and a variety of other accessories will now also be forever remembered as one of several celebrities who sought relief from stressors and inner demons by choosing to take their own lives.
The lesson for the rest of us is that we need to pay close attention to those we care about the most and listen intently to their sometimes quiet cries for help.
All of us at LifeCycles wish to express our condolences to the family and friends suffering from Kate Spade’s untimely death.
And, our very special condolences to her beloved daughter, Frances Beatrix, age 13, who was the recipient of her mother’s goodbye note, in
which she expressed that she loved her, her death was not her fault, and to “Ask Daddy!”
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health.