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Kate Spade’s Suicide Highlights Need to Address Mental Health Stigma

Written by David Carrigan
Published on June 7, 2018

Tuesday afternoon news broke that fashion designer, mogul, and icon Kate Spade committed suicide in her New York City apartment. Ms. Spade created a fashion empire out of humble beginnings and rose to the top of a fiercely competitive industry. By all accounts, she was a one of a kind. A fantastic designer and businesswoman with a contagious smile and an undeniable sense of humor. Already married and making millions by her mid-twenties, Ms. Spade appeared to have, from the outside, a life we would all envy.

However, Ms. Spade reportedly struggled with depression and mental health issues and self-medicated with alcohol. Her sister reported this years-long struggle to the Kanas City Star and spoke about Ms. Spade’s resistance to treatment, not wanting to damage the happy-go-lucky nature of her brand.

This tragic event is the most recent in a string of high-profile deaths by suicide. It highlights the need, not only mental health and suicide awareness, but also, the need to break the stigma associated with seeking treatment. Ms. Spade is just the latest person to take her own life due to mental health struggles and the associated stigma that stops so many from getting the care they need.

Ms. Spade’s death highlights how even those who appear to have it all on the outside can be fighting for there lives on the inside. Suicide is preventable, but only if we take down the barriers that prevent those in need from getting help. Suicide rates in the US have increased over the last decade; suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the US. How many of those deaths are avoidable if that stigma was not there? How many would receive the care they need if the treatment for depression was seen in the same light as treatment for physical ailments?

Mental health struggles are pervasive and affect every part of our society. Whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar, or any of the other potentially debilitating disorders, there is most likely somebody close to you who is affected. Whether it is a parent, a sibling, a friend, a co-worker, or ourselves, finding the right treatment and working towards ending the stigma will save lives.

Kate Spade was an amazing woman. She took over an industry, built an empire, and inspired countless to do the same. Now in death, let her inspire us to end the stigma and give those suffering from mental health diagnoses the love, care, and help they need. If you are struggling, or know someone who is, speak up, reach out, and get the help you need and deserve. 

Resources if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide or self-harm:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

800-273-TALK (8255)
A 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor.
Text 741741 to talk with a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving.

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