Kate Spade's death highlights mental health

The death of handbag designer Kate Spade has many asking why, but experts say this is proof that mental illness does not discriminate.

"Suicide is an equal opportunity tragedy.  It crosses all income levels," Merily Keller with the Texas Suicide Prevention Council tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI.

Spade, 55, was found unconscious in her Park Avenue New York City apartment this week.  She died by suicide, authorities say.

It seemed that Spade had it all.  Her company was a fashion success story, with its products quickly racking up sales of $28 million by the end of 1998, according to a New York Times report at the time.

But Reta Brosnahan Saffo, Spade’s older sister, told The Star that she believes her sister suffered from a mental illness for a number of years and had “eventually became full-on manic depressive” due to the “stress and pressure” of her empire.

Manic depression is a term once used to describe bipolar disorder.

Keller says this is why they ask people with underlying medical conditions to ask for help.

"You are at higher risk for dying by suicide if you have a mental health condition, and mental health conditions cross across all barriers," she explains.

Spade, born Katherine Noel Brosnahan, leaves behind her husband, who is the brother of actor David Spade, and a 13-year old daughter


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