I originally contemplated whether I wanted to write about the death of Kate Spade — Not because her death doesn’t matter (every death matters) but because I wasn’t sure, due to the amount of coverage her death has already received, if my words would have the depth it needs to shed light on what is occurring, or in this case, the suicide of a very successful woman. And then I determined that I want to write about this because I believe there is a common misconception that success equates to happiness, and successful people don’t kill themselves and can’t be sad or have problems — How wrong that is.
Spade was a talented and driven designer — The first time I became aware of her it was actually because of her quotes; words that sparked a little inspiration on days when I found myself far too preoccupied with trying to keep up with work, school, and other responsibilities. Her quotes made my day brighter; simple, fun, playful — always witty and optimistic. And then I discovered her handbags; beautiful, sophisticated, and bold. I instantly wanted a Kate.
Looking at her life from the outside, it appears it’s perfect; she built an empire, which according to sources is worth $2.4 billion. She lived in one of the largest and most expensive cities in America. She was married and together they have a daughter. And that’s the problem — looking from the outside portrays one story — looking past the surface portrays another story.
Various reports suggest that Spade suffered from anxiety and depression, yet she was a successful businesswoman. She wasn’t poor, she didn’t live on the side of the road in a makeshift style house held together with tape and rope (I’ve seen this many times) — And yet she committed suicide. She was smart, educated, ran successful businesses, and still managed to be a wife and a mother — And yet she committed suicide. Past the surface, maybe she had problems the world didn’t know about, until one event after another led her to take her own life. The fact is that suicide doesn’t discriminate; the wealthy, the average jane and joe, the strong, and the poor can all be victims. As I stated, success does not equate to happiness. Anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and other mental disorders affect people from all social classes; with the recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain highlighting this once again.
Due to my line of work, I have seen the distress, anger, and emotional turmoil that people experience daily; some handle it better than others and are able to reach out for help, while others have a more difficult time getting the support that they need. On average, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,965 Americans die by suicide each year; that’s at least 123 suicides per day — these are people that, regardless of any social/personal characteristics, needed help — and today, in this moment, or tomorrow, or a year from now, people need help.
Taking the time to reach out, or to simply listen, it can save a life; one of the worst things in the world is the inaction to help others.
If you or anyone you know needs support: If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to find information about receiving the appropriate support. You can seek professional help — Talk to your doctor, a counselor, a psychologist, or someone that you trust — You can fight this and get the help that you need.