The death of designer Kate Spade by suicide has upended social media, with fans pointing out the myth that success guarantees happiness.
The Associated Press reported that the famous handbag designer was found dead Tuesday morning in her Park Avenue, New York City home by a housekeeper, alongside a suicide note explaining that her 13-year-old daughter, who was at school at the time, was not at fault. The news outlet also reported that Kate’s husband Andy Spade was home at the time of her death.
Many people tweeted their devastation and discredited a common misconception about the origins of suicide.
I am so deeply saddened by the news of Kate Spade’s death. Mental illness is cruel and doesn’t discriminate based on resources or perceived popularity. Be good to yourselves today, friends.
— Laura Turner (@lkoturner) June 5, 2018
Sadly both Kate Spade and Avicii are reminders that ‘success’ does not equal happiness. So heartbreaking.
— Em Sheldon (@emshelx) June 5, 2018
As reported in a press release from the American Association of Suicidology, nearly 30 women die by suicide each day in the U.S. and more than 10,200 women die by suicide annually. Middle-aged women like Spade, are especially prone to suicide.
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“It would not be fair to speculate why Kate Spade died by suicide, but it’s clear that she was struggling — the stressors of parenthood, issues that arise in middle age, or professional roadblocks are possibilities,” president Julie Cerel, Ph.D. tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
It’s uncertain whether or not Spade struggled with depression, however, according to Cerel, 90 percent of suicide victims have some sort of psychiatric disorder. “That conclusion is often determined through psychological autopsies in which loved ones are interviewed about the deceased person,” she explains. “People may list depression as something they overlooked, but the reality is, people who die by suicide don’t necessarily have depression.”
She adds, “In fact, people with eating disorders and schizophrenia are likelier to end their lives.”
Shocked to hear of Kate Spade’s passing. She was a pioneer for women’s fashion, and to the outside world, a success in every way. But mental illness does not discriminate. No matter who you are. If you ever feel alone, know there is ALWAYS help. Love you.
— Jessica Vosk (@JessicaVosk) June 5, 2018
Some people are just completely tormented despite meds & friends & support. Some simply cannot deal & it is part of their DNA. Some can cope. It’s truly tragic to imagine the pain taking you there. https://t.co/JOqKYYQK3z
— Bethenny Frankel (@Bethenny) June 5, 2018
Because in most cases, suicide isn’t an impulsive decision, Cerel says there is good reason to check in on anyone who may be struggling, even those with professional success and wealth, like Spade. “Depression may be a combination of one’s life experience, skills such as coping mechanism, and biology — we just don’t know,” says Cerel.
As Todd Essig, a New York-based psychologist told Forbes in 2015, “Many C-suite executives are prone to depression, despite their success, maybe even because of it.” The outlet also reported that factors such as intense pressure, 24-hour work schedules, a shift in one’s identity, and a low self-esteem from setting high standards can all contribute.
And depression doesn’t always resemble sadness — in fact, hyperactivity when it comes to eating and sleeping habits can also serve as signs.