This morning, when Jessica texted me the news about Kate Spade’s suicide — she reportedly died by suicide this morning in her New York home — I gasped aloud to an empty room. What a sad and tragic situation for her and for her family; how helpless and lost she must have felt, how trapped. We wrote a little something for Cosmo about how the company she started impacted our young lives. It’s no small thing to make something that gives people a sense of themselves, or of their own power. Her purses were the only designer item that I personally could afford that wasn’t also from eBay — they were a much more affordable luxury then (of course, by comparison, they still are), and it felt so monumental somehow to be able to do that for myself, even if it was only like $150.
Suicide rates have increased substantially in the last 15 years, and while the conversation about mental illness becomes ever more open, it is still an incredibly lonely and frightening state in which to live. Its very hallmarks mean you can’t always see that you need help, or that everything isn’t the way it should be, or that you are loved and will be loved. As one of our Twitter friends said to us today, “Suicide is death from untreated depression, not cowardice.” Nicole Cliffe pointed out on Twitter, “I hope that if anything comes out of this, it will be people who have felt like their lives are too Objectively Good to reach out for help with depression will reassess that. No one can out-earn or out-being-loved their mental illness.” Obviously there are those who do not have Kate Spade’s personal wealth and may feel lacking in resources or avenues or outstretched hands, but her point is true: There are so many reasons people can, and will, talk themselves out of getting help. Or convince themselves they don’t need it. But we wouldn’t leave a toe hanging off our foot, or blow off cholesterol medication, or make a kid gut it through an ear infection and pray it gets better. We treat our thyroids, our reproductive systems, our eyes. May we all take the time to care for and maintain the rest of our full selves as well. Mental health does not discriminate, and neither should the treatment for it; I hope we can move toward a place where even the destitute and desperate among us have the resources to reach out a hand and have someone take it, and may we all be a safe place for someone to confide their struggles.
Please, if you ever need to talk to someone or are having bleak thoughts and don’t know where to turn, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.