This story deals with suicide and may be triggering for some readers.
I didn’t know much about Kate Spade before Tuesday. Of course, I recognised the iconic brand but I didn’t own any of her pieces and I certainly didn’t know much about the woman behind the global fashion empire. I didn’t even know she was actor David Spade’s sister in-law. Watching an old 2002 CNN interview, I was struck by her outward beauty and her zest for life. It made me wonder whether there had always been a dark shadow hovering over this bright, talented woman or whether something had occurred in recent years to take her down the heartbreaking path to suicide.
I have been deeply saddened by this story as it has unfolded over the past week. Her friend and colleague Elizabeth Kiester described her in a Vogue story as “human champagne, bubbly and effervescent, making everything bright and sparkly and funny and fun.” Sadly, so many who decide to take their own life often have a happy, energetic side to them that makes the act of suicide even harder for everyone else to fathom. I imagine her family and friends are in a world of pain right now. I’ve been there – blindsided by suicide. There are so many questions, so much guilt about whether the person could have been saved.
Then on Friday night, news filtered through of chef Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. I was in shock. Another wonderful human being, who broke down barriers and united people from all walks of life through food, was gone. I guess it’s human nature to wonder why and how Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, people who seemingly had an ideal life, decided to end those lives. Their fame and vast fortune make them intriguing figures and people who didn’t know them at all are wondering why and how. But just because we wonder about these things, it doesn’t mean we have a right to know.
I have been very uncomfortable with the media’s coverage of these stories, in particular the early reporting on Kate Spade’s death. Unavoidably, just by being on social media, as so many of us are, I was privy to her lifeless, covered body being transported out of her New York apartment. It was a confronting sight to see the sizeable crowd, many of them journalists or photographers, hovering over the scene. I also came across an interview with her sister describing Kate Spade’s depression and her unwillingness to be treated for it. I heard about how she committed suicide and I heard reports about the words she left to her daughter in a suicide note.
Kate Spade’s daughter Frances Beatrix is only thirteen years old. Anthony Bourdain’s daughter Ariane is just eleven years old. These girls are at the centre of these terrible tragedies. It is they who will have to live within the shadow of these events. These young girls will have to navigate life without the parents they adored and relied on. It is the saddest part of all of this.