Kate Spade had it all.
Met a cool guy named Andy. Started a business with him (and they later married). Business skyrocketed and became a household name (at least, in any household including teens or young women).
A New York Times headline describes her as the woman “Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood,” passionate and approachable.
She and Andy seemed to be unbelievably well-matched partners. He came up with the rough draft. She ran with his ideas and crafted the finished product.
She sold her stake in the business shortly after the birth of their daughter. Even in her absence, the website still seems to draw from her unassuming, quirky, vibrant personality.
The designer told Moneyish last year she wouldn’t trade the time with her only child in exchange for her self-titled brand “in a million years.”
In almost every article, Kate is described as the driving force of a fashion empire, impacting young ladies across the globe and in every layer of socioeconomics. “Attainable” fashion, with something for everyone from British Royalty and Chelsea Clinton to high school students. Fans like Jonquilyn Hill, now a producer, are reminiscing about buying their first Kate Spade bags.
Kate Spade was famous. Kate Spade worked hard and attained success. Kate Spade was a fashion phenom.
These are the reasons news of her apparent suicide is splashed across every web page around the world.
But Kate Spade’s suicide doesn’t matter.
At least, not for the reasons listed in many of the articles.
Kate was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend. Kate Spade’s suicide matters because she was a PERSON.
According to a CBS story, she may have been a person battling mental illness.
Most of us did not know Kate personally. 99% of The Web Collective freaking out right now did not know Kate.
Kate’s suicide doesn’t matter because people everywhere are mourning memories of their first handbag or wallet. Kate’s suicide doesn’t matter because she was a success. Kate’s suicide doesn’t matter because she is proof the American Dream comes true.
Kate’s suicide matters because people cared about her. Really cared. Not because famous people bought her products.
EVERY suicide should receive the same coverage. We should all mourn EVERY life lost to depression, to mental illness, to bad choices made in a moment of hopelessness.
Kate Spade’s suicide doesn’t matter any more than the suicide of my friend or of your parent or of that guy’s brother or of the kid from the neighborhood.
Her suicide also doesn’t matter any less.
The loss of a bright female leader (who chose to take time away from her fashion empire to focus on her daughter) is heartbreaking.
The fact that she is one of 45,000 individuals in one year to commit suicide is devastating.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health,
- Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 45,000 people.
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54.
- There were more than twice as many suicides (44,965) in the United States as there were homicides (19,362).
At-risk children, including those in the foster system, are even more likely to commit suicide.
In one study, children in foster care were almost three times more likely to have considered suicide and almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who had never been in foster care.
Perhaps “Kate Spade’s suicide doesn’t matter” isn’t really what I want to say. I think, “my friend’s suicide should matter just as much as Kate Spade’s” is closer to my true intent.
My adopted son’s declaration last September that he’d rather not be alive opened my eyes to the need. IN MY OWN HOME. Maybe in your home, also.
Hopelessness is rampant.
Pay attention to the people around you—especially if they belong to an at-risk population like kids who’ve been in foster care.
If family members seem a little “off,” don’t wait to ask if they’re okay.
If friends admit to feeling depressed, encourage them to seek help—and don’t walk away.
You might be the light that draws them back to life.
Here are a few resources for help:
If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Sending hugs your way.