Kate Spade’s death spurs discussion on how to talk about mental health & help others

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fashion lovers all over the world continue to mourn Kansas City native Kate Spade.

She was known for her talent designing iconic hand bags. New York police said a housekeeper found her dead from an apparent suicide Tuesday morning.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Spade's husband Andy Spade told The New York Times his wife suffered from depression and anxiety for years. He also confirmed they lived apart for 10 months but had no plans to divorce.

Spade said his wife's suicide was unexpected, and that she was actively seeking treatment and working closely with her doctors.

Her company, kate spade new york, grew to more than 140 retail shops, including one on the Country Club Plaza, and outlet stores, including one at the Legends, across the U.S. and more than 175 shops internationally. She sold her share in 2006 and then in 2016, started a new line called Frances Valentine.

Kate Spade

The designer's death has served as a powerful reminder that no one is immune to mental health problems -- even adults who seem to have it all together.

"It's not success. It's not lack of success. It's really the mindset," said Shawn McDaniel, the psychology training director at Truman Medical Center.

For some people, there's still a stigma attached to asking for help.

"It is hard to talk an adult into treatment when they're adamant they don't have a problem," McDaniel said.

Sometimes family and friends have to make difficult decisions when they're worried someone will take their own life, he said.

"Something that seems really imminent, someone that's in real danger, they should call 911," McDaniel said. "And then the police can start an affidavit process, bring them to a hospital and get them evaluated."

McDaniel said hospitals can hold people for 96 hours. In rare cases, he said a family member can get legal action to help.

"You can do a durable power of attorney and that can get enacted when somebody gets to the hospital and somebody can make their medical decisions not very common just because it only applies to certain people," McDaniel said.

He said people should help those in danger make safety plans and assist them in arranging professional help.

"I've found clinically making their own appointment is better than a family member making it for them. I see almost no follow-through when that happens," McDaniel said.

Conversations about feelings of hopelessness and suicide can help prevent it, according to Susan Rome, deputy director of Johnson County Mental Health.

"Tell them you're concerned, that there's help and you're willing to talk along side them to get that help. Whatever that might be," Rome said. "That you care about them enough to not give up."

Rome said even with busy adult lives, it's important that people put their mental health first.

"We as adults tend to focus our attention at times on other people and not take care of ourselves," Rome said.


If you are having suicidal thoughts, we urge you to get help immediately.

Go to a hospital, call 911 or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

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