Like many of you, I was shocked when I learned Kate Spade had taken her own life.
I was traveling on Tuesday and learned the news when I received a text message from a Crisis Center of Tampa Bay staff member. It just so happened my phone was in one of my favorite hand-bags, an all-black Kate Spade that my husband, Steve, gave to me as a gift on our first wedding anniversary.
I had followed Kate Spade’s career since 2000 and was a great admirer of her as a designer and business woman. I suppose I felt a sort of kinship with her since she was just a few years older than me. I had watched interviews with her over the years. She seemed smart, charming and surprisingly down to earth.
This is someone who appeared to have it all. She had the quintessential "Midwest girl becomes New York fashion icon" success story. She built an eponymous brand and sold it for millions of dollars so she could spend time with her young daughter.
I don’t know the specific struggles Kate faced. I’m writing this the day after she passed away and at this point, there is only speculation. What I do know is she was hurting, she needed help and she falsely convinced herself that suicide was the only option.
Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are no respecter of age, income, gender, education or celebrity. These conditions do not discriminate. Young and old, rich and poor, black and white, gay or straight all silently struggle while wearing a mask to hide their daily agony.
There is no single solution to these problems. Each person’s pain is unique, therefore each person’s solution is unique. However, we can all be part of the solution. We can do our part to fight stigmas associated with mental health and in seeking support. We can be committed to developing authentic relationships and having candid conversations with our loved ones about their feelings, and we can do our part to help connect people to community resources.
Anyone who is struggling or just looking for advice on how to help a loved one can call 2-1-1or 1-800-273-TALK and have a confidential conversation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These numbers are answered nationwide by organizations like the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay who stand ready to provide emotional support and connections to resources.
Clara Reynolds is president and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.