Kate Spade’s sister said her suicide was not unexpected and that Spade actually asked her to attend her funeral well in advance. Kate left behind a suicide note for her daughter.
The designer was found dead in her New York apartment yesterday of what seemed to be a suicide. Kate left behind daughter Frances Beatrix Spade with her husband Andy Spade. At the time of Kate’s death, the 13 year old was luckily at school. While her husband was in another room, Kate hung herself with a scarf tied to a doorknob. Her lifeless body was found by the housekeeper, and the note was found on her person. It was addressed to Frances and read, “Bea – I have always loved you. This is not your fault. Ask Daddy!”
Spade’s sister, Refa Saffo, has since shared with The Kansas City Star that Spade’s suicide was not unexpected. She added that her underlying problems had worsened over time due to the pressure of managing her brand, and that contributed to her struggles. She said, “I will say this was not unexpected by me. I’d flown out to Napa and NYC several times in the past 3-4 years to help her to get the treatment she needed (inpatient hospitalization). She was always a very excitable little girl and I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand (KS) may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full on manic-depressive …”
She also said that she had almost convinced Spade to go in and get treatment for her bipolar disorder at the same facility where Catherine Zeta-Jones was treated, but that Spade got scared at the last second. She said, “She was all set to go – but then chickened out by morning. I even said I (would) go with her and be a ‘patient’ too (she liked that idea), I said we could talk about it all – our childhood, etc. That I could help her fill in any blanks she might have …”
Saffo added that in the end, Spade’s paranoia about the happy-go-lucky image of her brand won over, and she refused to go for fear of what it would mean for her company and what people would say. Her sister said that after multiple tries, she eventually gave up. She said, “After numerous tries (assisted by Spade’s husband and business partner, Andy Spade), I finally let go … Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves! One of the last things she said to me was, ‘Reta, I know you hate funerals and don’t attend them, but for me would you PLEASE come to MINE, at least. Please! I know she perhaps had a plan, but she insisted she did not.”
After Kate was found unresponsive, her housekeeper called 911 and then ran out to get the building superintendent who rushed to the apartment, cut the scarf from Spade’s neck and attempted CPR. She did not respond and was pronounced dead. The NYPD Chief of Detectives later confirmed in a press conference that the death was a suicide.
Kate is being honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America this year for her contribution to fashion. The heads of the council, Steven Kolb and Diane von Furstenberg, released the news shortly after her death.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).