The death of Kate Spade has renewed discussions of mental health awareness, with celebrities mourning the fashion designer’s death with missives about depression and suicide prevention.
Spade, whose colorful handbags, bold prints and cheerful sayings once dominated American fashion, was found dead on Tuesday in her New York apartment in an apparent suicide, according to the Associated Press.
A former accessories editor at the now-defunct magazine Mademoiselle, Spade founded her fashion label in 1993 with her husband, Andy, who was involved with his own fashion label, Jack Spade, and now has the branding venture, Partners & Spade.
The late designer was no longer involved with the Kate Spade label, but the brand, which is now owned by Coach’s parent company Tapestry, confirmed her death on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, saying that the “visionary founder of our brand has passed” and honored “all the beauty she brought into this world.”
Though no official reports said that Spade suffered from mental illness, Twitter users quickly jumped in the fray to says that depression “does not discriminate” and is a “life-threatening illness, just like heart disease, cancer, or sepsis.”
“There should be no stigma about mental health—only treatment, awareness, and compassion,” tweeted surgeon and columnist Eugene Gu.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and on average just under 45,000 Americans die by suicide.
The AFSP offered condolences to the Spade family and the designer’s creative network, in a statement on Tuesday.
“There is never a single cause for suicide,” it noted. “Suicide is the result of many factors that come together such as an underlying mental health condition, life stressors, and access to lethal means. We must do more to prevent such tragic deaths through greater awareness of mental health, common risks and warning signs, and effective interventions and treatments.”
Incredibly saddened by Kate Spade’s tragic suicide at only 55. Depression is a life threatening illness just like heart disease, cancer, or sepsis. There should be no stigma about mental health—only treatment, awareness, and compassion.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) June 5, 2018
Actress Rosie Perez, who was featured in the brand’s #MissAdventure ad campaign last year, also called for an end to the stigma.
Singer Josh Groban and White House advisor Ivanka Trump, a fashion designer herself, tweeted about depression’s silent effects.
Tears just knowing #KateSpade took her life alone & in pain! So many hide & suffer alone. I get it-#Mentalillness can suck & be very painful. We must end stigma & help each other get proper #MentalHealth treatment. My sympathies to her family. #SuicidePrevention: 1-800-273-8255 https://t.co/ZsZQYstrva— Rosie Perez (@rosieperezbklyn) June 5, 2018
Depression does not discriminate and comes without warning. RIP Kate Spade. Love to her family.— josh groban (@joshgroban) June 5, 2018
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Very saddened to hear about the passing of Kate Spade. Mental illness does not discriminate and can happen to anyone with any circumstances. I hope she has found peace ❤️— Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) June 5, 2018
We're so sad to learn of the passing of fashion designer, Kate Spade, in a reported suicide. Our hearts go out to her family and friends. Depression and mental illness are real issues affecting people everywhere. There's no shame in reaching out for help. https://t.co/csQYNrRPqv— The Real (@TheRealDaytime) June 5, 2018
Such a sad day, as we lost an icon in Kate Spade. I don't know about her personal life, but I'm sorry she couldn't find happiness on this physical plane. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you need help - it's never as bad as it seems. 💜— Ashley (@_AshleyDarby) June 5, 2018
The passing of Kate Spade is a stark reminder that we never know the struggles of a person regardless of their outward persona. If you or anyone you love is struggling, there is help. You don’t have to be alone.— Archive: Ambassador Nikki Haley (@AmbNikkiHaley) June 5, 2018
The Natl Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 #RIPKateSpade
The death of #katespade is so terribly sad. It makes no sense unless you have lived it, then you know that death seems “logical”. IT IS NOT. I know it seems like you are trapped, and you just want it to stop. It can. IT WILL. I KNOW. Call for help right now. #lifeisworthit.— Glenn Beck (@glennbeck) June 5, 2018
Other influencers discussed the designer’s impact on their wardrobes. The former fashion editor started Kate Spade Handbags in 1993, which launched into a clothing and jewelry empire before the fashion label was sold by Neiman Marcus Group in 2006 to a company then called Liz Claiborne Inc.
With her business partners, Spade began another brand called Frances Valentine, named after her 13-year-old daughter and other family members, in 2016. That year she also announced she had changed her name to Kate Valentine in an attempt to distinguish herself from her namesake label.
But many, including former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton and actress Beth Behrs, recalled receiving their first Kate Spade handbags and other high-end pieces.
My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag when I was in college. I still have it. Holding Kate’s family, friends and loved ones in my heart.— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) June 5, 2018
I remember when I got my first Kate Spade bag in high school. It was my most prized possession. My current wallet ,covered in bees , makes me smile every time I see it- it’s by Kate Spade. My heart is just broken for her family and loved ones.— Beth Behrs (@BethBehrs) June 5, 2018
My heart and prayers go out to Kate Spade and her family. What a wonderful, talented woman who will be dearly missed.— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) June 5, 2018
I am heartbroken about the news of Kate Spade. I have worn her clothes many, many times. They were colorful, bold, cheerful, and encouraged women to find the twinkly person inside them. You couldn’t walk into her boutiques and not smile. Rest In Peace, Kate.— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) June 5, 2018
Kate Spade was more than a designer. She had a quirky visual language that captivated Bat Mitzvah girls and artists alike. She was also a staple of NYC who spread good will. My heart breaks for her family. Thank you, Kate, from one of the millions you made feel beautiful.— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) June 5, 2018
Looking at notecards by #KateSpade, a woman who created a brand built on whimsy, happiness and joy, my heart breaks for her friends and family. A sad reminder that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.— Kate Chastain (@Kate_Chastain) June 5, 2018
The National Suicide Prevention
Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 pic.twitter.com/n2YuVu4H0i
Within the fashion sphere, Council of Fashion Designers of America Chief Executive Steven Kolb and designer and CFDA Board Chairman Diane von Furstenberg issued a joint statement on Tuesday on behalf of the CFDA.
“The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague and CFDA member Kate Spade’s tragic passing,” they said. “She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories. We want to honor her life and her major contribution to the fashion business and express our most sincere condolences to the family.”
“The CFDA is devastated to hear the news of our friend, colleague, and CFDA member Kate Spades’s tragic passing. She was a great talent who had an immeasurable impact on American fashion and the way the world viewed American accessories.— CFDA (@CFDA) June 5, 2018
We want to honor her life and her ma… pic.twitter.com/5l8uyDsNsG
The designer and the label she founded were connected to Hollywood, though few immediately commented on her passing.
Spade’s brother-in-law is comedian David Spade and her niece is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan, who did not immediately respond to The Times’ requests for comment.
Actresses Anna Faris, Anna Kendrick, Zosia Mamet and Lily Tomlin have also starred in the fashion label’s #MissAdventure ad campaigns, while Laura Dern, Tavi Gevinson and Sasheer Zamata appeared in the brand’s “In Full Bloom” fragrance campaign earlier this year.