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 hanged 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 will never forget the first Kate Spade bag I got for Christmas in college. She was a trailblazer. Her life and death are a reminder that pain doesn’t discriminate. Sending love to her family.
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.
Kate Spade is another example of how financial stability and fame are meaningless when it comes to mental health. Happiness is not limited to your bank account or your success. You could have the whole world and still have nothing at all.
— “...off the hands of Funchess, incomplete” (@Boomgoesjoshie) 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
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.
“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.
Kate Spade through the years
Kate Spade through the years
Kate Spade during The 2001 VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards - Arrivals at The Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Kate Spade during The Fresh Air Fund Salutes American Heroes at Tavern on the Green in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Designer Kate Spade arriving at the 2002 Ace Awards presented by The Accessories Council at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City. November 5, 2002. Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect.
Kate Spade during The Concert for New York City - After Party at Hudson Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Kate Spade during 13th Annual Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year Awards - Arrivals at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Kate Spade with husband and brother-in-law David Spade at the 20th Annual American Fashion Awards at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. 06/14/2001. Photo: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect
Kate Spade during 17th Annual CFDA Awards at JP Morgan Atrium in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Designer Kate Spade is photographed at her offices. (Photo by David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images)
Kate Spade and Andy Spade during Costume Institute Benefit Dance: 'Party of the Year' - Arrivals at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Kate Spade during 14th Annual GLAMOUR Women of the Year Awards - Red Carpet at American Museum of Natural History in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Kate Spade (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)
Kate Spade during CFDA 7th on Sale Kick-Off - Red Carpet and Inside at Sky Light Studios in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage for LaForce and Stevens)
NEW YORK - JUNE 7: Designer Kate Spade attends the '2004 CFDA Fashion Awards' at the New York Public Library June 7, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Kate Spade, Andy Spade and Ruth Lande Shuman, founder/president of Publicolor (Photo by Carley Margolis/FilmMagic)
David Spade and Kate Spade during Photographer's Gallery Presents Slim Aarons Curated by Kate Spade at Fred Segal Cafe in West Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - APRIL 30: Kate Spade and Andy Spade attend PARSONS The NEW SCHOOL FOR DESIGN 59TH ANNUAL BENEFIT and FASHION SHOW Honoring SUSAN D. KRONICK, Vice Chairman, Federated Department Stores, Inc. at Grand Hyatt on April 30, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by JIMI CELESTE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Kate Spade attends the 2015 Basser Center For BRCA Benefit at Cipriani Wall Street on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: Kate Spade speaks on stage at Build Series Presents Kate Spade and Andy Spade Discussing Their Latest Project Frances Valentine at Build Studio on April 28, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/WireImage)
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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.”
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.
Celebrities wearing Kate Spade
Celebs wearing Kate Spade throughout the years
Celebs wearing Kate Spade throughout the years
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 07: Taylor Swift is seen on July 07, 2014 in New York City holding a Kate Spade Purse. (Photo by Gardiner Anderson/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends the World Mental Health Day celebration with Heads Together at the London Eye on October 10, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
PORT WASHINGTON, NY - JUNE 25: Leighton Meester holding a woven Kate Spade purse and Blake Lively on location for 'Gossip Girl' on June 25, 2008 in Port Washington, New York. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Victoria Justice is seen wearing Kate Spade in Gramercy Park on March 20, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gotham/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Actor Isla Fisher Kate Spade presentation during New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Mandy Moore attends the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 5, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05: Ellie Kemper attends the 2017 CFDA Fashion Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on June 5, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
MAY 31, 2017: SYDNEY, NSW - (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) Newly married Pippa Middleton boards a seaplane in a Kate Spade stripe dress after enjoying lunch with husband James Matthews at the Cottage Point Inn in Sydney, New South Wales. (Photo by Rohan Kelly/Newspix/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visits The Foundling Museum on November 28, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 09: Actor Lucy Hale attends the Kate Spade presentation during New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 07: Actress Millie Bobby Brown arrives at The BAFTA Tea Party at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 7, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 12: Actress Jamie Chung attends the Kate Spade New York - Presentation - Fall 2016 show during New York Fashion Week at The Rainbow Room on February 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Killian/WireImage)