Sister: Kate Spade's Suicide 'Not Unexpected'

She says designer was fixated on Robin Williams' suicide; family is not happy with her comments
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 6, 2018 5:58 AM CDT
Updated Jun 6, 2018 6:41 AM CDT
In this May 13, 2004 photo, designer Kate Spade poses with handbags and shoes from her next collection in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
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(Newser) – The apparent suicide of fashion designer Kate Spade is a tragedy, but not a huge surprise to older sister Reta Saffo. She tells the Kansas City Star that Spade had been struggling with mental illness for years and the stress and pressure of her famous brand may have "flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive." The death, she says, "was not unexpected by me." Spade was found hanged in her New York City apartment on Tuesday. Saffo says that in 2014, her sister was transfixed by news of Robin Williams' suicide by hanging . "She kept watching it and watching it over and over," Saffo says. "I think the plan was already in motion even as far back as then." Spade, whose husband, Andy Spade, was reportedly home at the time of her death, left a note telling 13-year-old daughter Frances it wasn't her fault. More:

  • Meanwhile, Spade's family is "disgusted and saddened that at this time of great sorrow, Kate’s sister who has been estranged from the entire family for more than 10 years would choose to surface with unsubstantiated comments," a family source tells People. "Her statements paint a picture of someone who didn’t know her at all."
  • Saffo, whose husband is a medical doctor, says she tried for years to get her sister the help she needed, but Spade kept backing out of plans to get treatment. "She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out," says Saffo.
  • Kathy Griffin was among many celebrities paying tribute to Spade, the BBC reports. "I decided to wear head-to-toe Kate Spade to an event tonight to honor her contributions to fashion and women in business," she tweeted. "Rest easy, Kate..and thank you for making so many women feel wonderful."
  • The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-8255.

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