Kate Spade, Suicide & Stigma

I am sad about Kate’s Spade’s death, and sad that another person has died by suicide.

As she was a celebrity, her death and the varied reactions to it have been very public. While I have read many supportive comments for her and her family, many others have been laced with judgement and unkindness.  The unfortunate stigmas around suicide, which many people clearly still hold, have been loudly on display.

I have read comments in which people, sounding indignant, claim that they purchased Kate Spade items for relatives, because they thought (past tense) that she was a good role model… as if her suicide has voided all of her talent, her accomplishments, and her positive influence.

I am wondering if the stigma and backlash is even worse because she was a mother. Would people be so harsh if she had been male? Many have commented with a touch of outrage about the impact upon her daughter.  I don’t recall similar comments when Kurt Cobain died.

Kate’s husband has released a statement in which he essentially defends her. He is pushing back, to deny some of the unkind rumors and speculations. He also states that he is “appalled that a private message to my daughter has been so heartlessly shared with the media.” He is right. This is appalling, and heartless. The fact that he feels the need to defend Kate (in the midst of his own grief) is heartbreaking.

I hope that we can use this moment to educate about suicide. To increase compassion and understanding.

People who die by suicide are feeling overwhelming pain and hopelessness. Many are struggling with mental illness, which is as real and potentially impactful as a physical illness.

More empathy and understanding, please.







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