Somber warning from Kate Spade tragedy

City Talk | Juliana Chen 13 Jun 2018

"Here is the tragedy: when you are the victim of depression, not only do you feel utterly helpless and abandoned by the world, you also know that very few people can understand, or even begin to believe, that life can be this painful. There is nothing I can think of that is quite as isolating as this."

As the circumstances surrounding last week's suicide of iconic fashion designer Kate Spade began to emerge, the above somber description by British artist and poet Giles Andreae serves as a timely exhortation to those suffering from such biting loneliness to seek professional assistance.

In e-mails to the Kansa City Star newspaper, Kate's sister Reta Saffo confirmed that the visionary designer suffered from years of debilitating depression. Her reluctance to receive medical help stemmed from the fear that should word get out, it would have a negative impact on her brand, which features crisp color, graphic prints and playful sophistication.

The most heart-breaking facet of this very sad story was that Reta Saffo came so close to getting Kate Spade to go in for treatment, with the staff agreeing to fly in to talk with her and escort her to the center but she chickened out in the morning.

"In the end, the 'image' of her brand (happy-go-lucky Kate Spade) was more important for her to keep up. She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out."

It was hard for outsiders to fathom why Kate Spade, who no longer owned her eponymous brand, but had started another fashion line Frances Valentine (named after her 13-year-old daughter Frances Beatrix Spade), cherished such deep-seated anxiety.

Reta Saffo also revealed that Spade had a disturbing interest in the suicide of comic actor Robin Williams in 2014 and the event might play a role in Spade's eventual demise.

Kate Spade's death has not only shocked the fashion world, but also sparked national conversation on suicide with prevention messages flooding media networks such as NBC.

With the increase of work pressure and competition due to globalization, incidences of mood issues ranging from downcast feelings to outright depression would continue to go up.

While adequate medical facilities and competent professionals are imperative to tackle the problem, it would also be beneficial for employers, human resource managers, co-workers, parents and siblings to be on the look-out for early signs and offer timely assistance.

Retired senior civil servant is a passionate crystal collector who shares the good things in life.

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