Kate Spade’s Death Reminds Us The Importance Of Checking On Our Strong Friends

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“You never know what people are really going through.”

This is a phrase that appeared multiple times on my screen in group chats and caption after caption on social media on Tuesday morning when the news broke that Kate Spade was found dead in her apartment. Her death was ruled a suicide, she was 55 years old.

The news sent a shockwave through the world of fashion and especially to working women. For so many professional women, the moment they bought or were gifted their first Kate Spade purse was a symbol of adulthood, of confidence and inspiration as they went forth to pursue the life of their dreams.

So the thought that one of the icons, a symbol of professional achievement and success for women was battling “personal demons” that led her to take her own life is a wake up call. The photos we see, the accolades, the achievements, don’t make a person healthy internally.  From the outside looking in, Spade “had it all” –  a woman from Kanas City worked her way up, and started her own company which was acquired by Coach last year for $2.4 billion.  She had a family, and just launched a new venture.

Even more jarring, is perhaps that her brand and imagery present a very light, happy, cheery aesthetic which we now know is in stark contrast to the dark internal reality Spade was battling on a daily basis.

[Screenshot from KateSpade.com]

Spade is not alone. The Center for Disease Control says more than half of states within the U.S. have seen suicide rates rise more than 30 percent and in 2016 suicide accounted for close to 45,000 deaths. We can often get lost in the statistics, distancing ourselves in a way, and when a major icon puts a face to it it forces us to really look at the humanity behind the numbers.

In this era of social media highlight reels, the public persona and perception of Kate Spade as the embodiment of her brand serves as a direct parallel to our own lives where we can exist in a reality very different than the one shown on our social profiles. Calls to “check on your strong friend” rang out across the Internet because we all know a woman who appears to have it all together and this served as a much needed reminder that the behind the scenes does not always match up.

You can the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Another resource is the Crisis Text Line text the word HOME to 741741 anytime.

Rhonesha Byng

About Rhonesha Byng

Rhonesha is the founder of HerAgenda.com. She resides in New York City and works as a journalist and an entrepreneur.
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