Kate Brosnahan Spade, world-renowned fashion designer, was found dead in an apparent suicide Tuesday morning. A housekeeper, who made the 911 call around 10:30 a.m., found Kate in her New York apartment hanging from a scarf attached to a bedroom doorknob, CBS News reports. A note allegedly written by Kate was found at the scene, but the contents were not officially divulged. However, anonymous officials told The Associated Press in an unauthorized release that the note included a message to Kate's 13-year-old daughter telling her that the death was not her fault. Kate's husband, Andy Spade, was also at the scene. Kate was 55 years old.
In 1993, Kate and Andy created the namesake brand Kate Spade, which became known for its use of cheerful prints and bright colors across its line of handbags, shoes, accessories and other merchandise. The couple detached from the brand in 2006 after selling their last remaining stakes to Neiman Marcus. Tapestry, formerly Coach, now owns the Kate Spade brand. Kate and Andy returned to the fashion business in 2016 upon launching Frances Valentine, a footwear, handbag and accessories brand.
An Outcry for Mental Health
In the wake of the tragedy, fans took to social media to react to the apparent suicide by stressing the importance of mental health.
"Kate Spade is another example that success, fame, and money doesn't cure mental illness. Chasing material things or short term boosts of ego isn't the cure for depression.
There is no shame in admitting you need help. Mental health is important. People want to help you."
— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) June 5, 2018
"Very saddened to hear about the passing of Kate Spade. Mental illness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone with any circumstances. I hope she has found peace ❤
And if you struggle with mental illness, know you aren’t alone. There is power in asking for help. The more we talk about it, the more change we can see. Life is worth living and you are worth every second of it."
— Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) June 5, 2018
"Mental health issues do not discriminate. By all accounts, Kate Spade “had it all”-money, success, fame. None of these things matter when you are sick. Kate was not selfish. Kate was not weak. Kate was sick. #MentalHealthMatters"
— Trenni Kusnierek (@trenni) June 5, 2018
"Incredibly saddened by Kate Spade’s tragic suicide at only 55. Depression is a life threatening illness just like heart disease, cancer, or sepsis. There should be no stigma about mental health—only treatment, awareness, and compassion."
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 5, 2018
"I saw that Kate Spade has committed suicide
A lot of people are saying “mentally ill need better access to resources to help them” but the thing is Kate HAD those resources and she still committed suicide.
We don’t need better resources we need to quit making mental health taboo."
— Migraine Momma (@kols_momma) June 5, 2018
How Do You Know if Someone is Suicidal?
The problem with suicide is it's a very sensitive issue that is not easy to pinpoint. Like the Kate Spade brand, one could appear cheerful and bright on the outside — a stark contrast to whatever could really be ruminating in the mind. However, research statistics have found a number of risk factors associated with increased suicide ideation or incidence. Some of these factors include:
Health Problems: Both mental health and physical illnesses are closely related with suicide rates. Chronic and severe physical illnesses, particularly those resulting in impairment, are the common causes for suicidal thoughts. Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline and anti-social personality disorder and alcohol and drug abuse are among the major mental health-related causes.
Age: Between the years 2000 and 2016, suicide rates are generally highest among middle aged adults and older.
Gender: Suicide rates in men are almost twice as high as women, but self-harm (including attempted suicide) is higher among women.
Difficult Situations: Unemployment, separation, widowing, retirement and/or loss of socioeconomic status.
Access to Lethal Means: Having access to weaponry, chemical substances, and other harming materials is also a predominant risk factor.
With that said, it is important that we as a society understand — and continue to vocalize — that getting in touch with a mental health professional who is trained to detect any issues and help pull someone pull out of a dark place isn't a weakness.