The tragic news of Kate’s Spade’s death by suicide today came as a blow to many who assumed she was someone who “had it all. “ We don’t yet know any details, but the sad truth is that there is an increase in suicides across all ages in the United States, and an increase in anxiety and depression rates. Sadly, in the wake of a high profile suicides, copycat behavior often follows. Because Kate Spade has name recognition on such a global scale, the potential for copycat behavior is not only possible, but highly likely.
The name and product lines of Kate Spade are synonymous with quality, whimsy, and something bigger than each of us. Owning a real (or even fake) Kate Spade product offers a simple and straightforward invitation to snippets of a beautiful life. These snippets offer small moments of relief from the messiness of the world we live in. If you are a woman reading this, you know exactly what I am talking about, which is perhaps why the actual Kate Spade’s actual death by suicide is hitting the world in such a profound way.
My fear is that the Kate Spade handbag or dress sitting nicely in your closet (the one that brought you a tiny shred of joy just this morning when you glanced at it while you were getting dressed) just took on a whole new meaning. Tonight before you go to sleep, you might take another long look at that handbag or dress, and wonder if the world really is at is appears. As a therapist, I will answer in advance to save you some existential angst. The answer is yes and no.
Yes, the world is messy and not perfect. We are messy and not perfect. We are complex humans with incredibly complex brains, emotions, experiences and we all make mistakes. No, the world is not really as perfect as a Kate Spade handbag might have led you to believe, and the snippet of perfection was just that- a snippet. Millions, actually billions of dollars went into marketing the belief that if you buy a specific product like a simple and beautifully crafted handbag, you too will have a perfect life. We fall for that line of thinking every single day.
Suicidal thinking often happens when a person has lost all hope, and has lost touch with reality to such a degree, that they really can’t see clearly. The thinking that the world would be better off without them is common. Deep depression can cause this faulty thinking. I have sat with people in these dark places, and then sat with them following their recovery. They often look back in astonishment that they tumbled to such a low place.
If you have a friend or loved one who is feeling depressed and appear to be in danger, please intervene on their behalf. Often it is very simply a tiny shred of hope that is needed to keep a person going one more day until they can get themselves to safety, or the get a glimpse of coming caring to help them see clearly. Perspective is a big helper in breaking through the darkness. Offering your loved one an opportunity to contemplate past or future times might serve as an antidote to their current inability to see beyond their current situation.
Please remember that your loved one might not be thinking clearly, and in that case, you MUST ACT ON THEIR BEHALF, even if they get angry at you in the moment. They will thank you later. Please call this suicide hotline number if you are in the US and needing help: 1-800-273-8255. Please find a local mental health professional, or someone to assist you. Thank you and please keep wearing your Kate Spade things. Your Kate Spade product might just take on a whole new meaning. Remember that the world is what it is; wonderful, infuriating, surprising, unpredictable, and messy.