‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help’: Kate Spade’s death prompts conversations about mental health

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many times, people shy away from the word “suicide,” but news of designer Kate Spade’s death has prompted discussions about mental health and suicide prevention across the country.

On Tuesday, the KC native and legendary designer was found dead after police say she took her own life in her New York City apartment. Her death serves as a powerful reminder that wealth, fame, popularity — those things mean nothing in terms of suicide.

Designer Kate Spade (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images For American Express)

Members of the Johnson County Suicide Prevention Coalition have been meeting once a month for years — long before Tuesday’s news about Spade’s death.

“No one is immune,” coalition co-chair Kevin McGuire said. “Suicide knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care about wealth. It doesn’t care about race. It doesn’t care about sex. It doesn’t care about demographics. It affects anybody and everybody.”

McGuire said Spade’s death might hit close to home for some.

“It definitely hits close to home when someone of your demographic box follows through with something unimaginable like that,” he said. “I think what we want to be sure is to let people know that it’s OK to feel whatever feelings or emotions they’re experiencing, especially if it does hit close to home.”

“If you are a 50+ aged female in Johnson County — and maybe this is the first time you’re realizing this is a little bit too close to home; this could happen to me — it’s OK to acknowledge those feelings,” McGuire said. “Just don’t be afraid to ask for help. However we’re dealing with this as an individual, as friends or acquaintances, as a community and as a culture, we need to be OK with asking for help.”

Candy Rojas brought her 10-year-old twin girls to the Kate Spade store on the plaza to pay their respects. Rojas said she’s been a fan and huge supporter of the designer since the KC native began her handbag line back in 1993.

“She always made you feel a little more Audrey Hepburn-ish. The girls here love everything. My oldest daughter, her first big purchase when she got a job was a Kate Spade purse!” Rojas said.

The mom lost a close family friend to suicide last year, and besides her love for the designer, it’s why she brought her girls to take flowers and a card to the Kate Spade store.

“We just needed to let the family that’s here still now know that she will always be remembered and she made an impact on so many people,” Rojas 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).

Click on the boxes below for our FOX 4 You Matter reports and other helpful phone numbers and resources.

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