An Open Letter to Beatrice Francis Spade

kate spade

For those of you who may not know Beatrice Spade is the 13-year-old daughter of Kate Spade, fashion designer who recently passed away from complications from depression, anxiety and maybe bipolar. Kate Spade died by suicide.

Dear Beatrice,

Your mom created a brand, a brand known to all and utilized by many. She had success but that success came with a cost. She was afraid to admit her own imperfections because on the surface being imperfect might jeopardize her brand. Deep inside she struggled. And her demons overtook her. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to answer the question of Why people choose suicide. They choose the path to suicide because they are in tremendous pain and darkness from mental illnesses they did not choose to have. They choose suicide because it is easier than to live tormented by mental illness. Getting help is not an option in a society that discriminates against the mentally ill. They want to preserve their flawless image and never admit that something is defeating them inside, something like mental illness.

You are in a lot of pain now. Pain you can never come to understand at your age, yet it is a pain that has been thrust upon you, and in the public eye. When you are ready, make meaning out of your mother’s death. Become an advocate for those with mental illness. Learn all you can about mental health for your own sake and that of those you love. There is a powerful community of voices you can join in the mental health advocacy movement.

Again, suicide is not a weakness in character. It merely is an end to tremendous pain and feelings like getting help will get you labeled a failure by society. I once felt like this. I had bipolar disorder but I was this aspiring journalist working my way up through the ranks to a daily newspaper. The rat race almost killed me. Many people have said that if I stayed longer at my first newspaper job I might have been editor one day. But my illness’ symptoms flared up forcing me to quit that paper to hide another manic break. I never felt I could confide in my editor’s; I never felt I could trust them with what was going on with me. I ran to alcohol and that made things worse. I won’t go into detail about what happened next. I will say that with sobriety and with the right medications I eventually found my way to hope.

There is hope. New treatments and breakthroughs in science are happening everyday. More celebrities like Mariah Carey are coming out about their struggles with mental illness. There are organizations like the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), Active Minds, This is My Brave and others that are working to end the discrimination around people with mental illness and change the conversation surrounding it.

Today, I read the suicide rate is on the rise in almost every state according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). There is something wrong with society that prevents people from getting help because of a fear of being seen as a failure, a weak. The people who get treatment are strong and successful. It takes a long time to find the right treatments or it can take a short time. Every person is different.

If you or anyone you know feels suicidal, help is out there. Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or visit them on the web at

You are not alone. Someone else has already been there before you. Help is out there.

One thought on “An Open Letter to Beatrice Francis Spade

  1. Good stuff! I notice that you said that you had Bipolar Disorder. I had/have BP too. I’m leaning toward the had but continue to take the gold standard med. Not something to discuss in an open platform but the passage of time and much education on the topic have put me in the question.


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