What not to say about Kate Spade

I didn’t want to write about suicide on my son’s eighth birthday. But then, I didn’t want to hear what I’ve been hearing, either.

Kate Spade took her own life yesterday, and it seemed like everyone was talking about it. Suicide brings out the Judgy Judys, and I found myself cringing again and again. It’s fine to say “I don’t understand that.” It’s fine to say “Such a shame.” What is NOT FINE is to say … well, pretty much anything like this …

“She designed pretty purses! She designed floral notebooks with inspiration phrases! How could anyone so HAPPY do something like THAT?” NO.

“People who do that are just cruel” NO.

If you have never been suicidal, if you have never suffered from the deep darkness of mental illness, if you could not FATHOM taking your own life, then please refrain from saying anything other than “How sad.”

Because you DO. NOT. UNDERSTAND.

“Suicide is selfish!” NO.

“She had everything in the world to live for!” NO.

“Jeez! What a dumb thing to do.” NO.

“… the brand was an extension of Spade’s personality, all cheerfulness and ease … the realization of how hard Spade must have worked to keep it hidden for the sake of her brand — coming across as happy and dynamic when often she must have felt otherwise — was shocking and heartbreaking.”

“How could somebody DO that to their family?!” NO.

“She had a 13-year-old daughter! How could a PARENT kill themselves?” NO.

“… She made us feel that the perfect life was eminently achievable. How devastating to learn it felt exactly the opposite to her …”

“What’s wrong with people?!” NO.

“She had it all!” NO.

“… ‘The last person on earth you’d think would take her own life.'”

“This ‘mental illness’ business has gone too far.” NO.

“What a stupid thing to do.” NO.


I don’t know Kate’s story — I just own a bunch of her notebooks because I like her style. But I do know what it feels like to hurt. What it feels like to think things aren’t going to get any better. What it feels like to think the only way to stop hurting is to make EVERYTHING stop, permanently.

How sad.

“… It’s a rough world out there. people. Try to hang on.”

So what do you think?

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