Kate Spade's death widens mental illness discussions

Jun 8, 2018

The store window at the Kate Spade New York shop inside the Factory Outlets of Niagara Falls this week noted the designer's death. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley spoke to some shoppers who were saddened to learn Spade died by suicide.


Factory Outlets of Niagara Falls sign featuring Kate Spade store.
Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

Ironically the lyrics “Hold on for one more day” from the Wilson Philips song "Hold On" played inside the outlet mall outside of the Kate Spade shop.  

The medical examiner in New York CIty has ruled Spade's death as a suicide by hanging. Her husband has issued a statement saying she suffered from depression and was seeking help.

WBFO caught up with some young women shoppers who were upset to learn of the fashion designer's untimely death.

Kate Spade New York shop inside the Factory Outlets of Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, NY.
Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

"It was just tragic. I like her purses. I like her style," noted one female outlet shopper.

The women said they believe if Spade went public with her mental health struggle, she would have been surrounded with support. 

"She has a big fan following. She would get so much support and people would come together and help her," said another shopper.

Window display at Kate Spade New York at Factory Outlets of Niagara Falls.
Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

With Spade's celebrity status as an acclaimed fashion designer, her death is breaking open discussions of the struggles that surround mental illness.

"Would have it affected her brand for you?" asked Buckley. "Oh no. I would still go and buy all her stuff," responded the female shopper.  

"I think people would have helped her. She could have gotten a lot of help for it because obviously she has a lot of fans. A lot of people are buying her purses," replied the second shopper. 

Window display at Kate Spade New York.
Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

The store's public sign in the window state's Spade was the "visionary founder" of the brand and that they "honor all the beauty she brought in the world."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new suicide numbers this week, indicating the suicide rates are rising across the United States. "Nearly 45,000 lives lost to suicide in 2016," states the CDC.

Window display of Kate Spade New York at Factory Outlets of Niagara Falls.
Credit Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

"Suicide is a leading cause of death in the US. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016,” the CDC  statement on the new numbers said.

”Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death.

”Other problems often contribute to suicide, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress. Making sure government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, the media and community organizations are working together is important for preventing suicide. Public health departments can bring together these partners to focus on comprehensive state and community efforts with the greatest likelihood of preventing suicide."

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and here in Western New York you can call the Crisis Services hotline 24 hours a day at 716-834-3131.