Some Pointers on Sharing and Talking About the Suicide Death of Kate Spade

You’ve probably heard by now that Kate Spade died from suicide. Please be informed regarding how to share this news with your networks. So many of the media articles coming out are filled with sensationalistic garbage that misses the point, which is that she was in deep despair and, for whatever reason, couldn’t find her way out of it.

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Photo: Danielle Kosann

Here are a few pointers for sharing on the topic and the conversations to follow:

1. Learn and use appropriate language around suicide. We’re moving away from “committed suicide” because it’s pathologizing, and it implies sin or crime. Instead, here are some other options: “died by/from suicide,” “took their life,” “ended their life.”

2. I know we’re all rubberneckers, and maybe you wanna know how she did it. Plenty of media outlets are sharing that information (against expert recommendations). Go look it up for yourself if you must, but try and avoid sharing details with your networks. It could potentially upset someone who has been suicidal or attempted suicide, or even lost someone to suicide in that manner. Do you want to play a part in ripping those wounds open? And again, it’s sensationalistic. Are you personally choosing to share this information to perpetuate the sensationalism? Or are you sharing because you think suicide is a problem and you’d like to change that? If your answer is the latter, share reports that focus less on the gore and more on the issue at hand.

3. Learn your local and national suicide crisis resources. Share them widely — and then save them in your phone, because there will probably come a time when someone you know personally needs them. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800.273.8255. You can get Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. The Trevor Project’s hotline is at 866.488.7386 (they also have text and chat services). Trans Lifeline is at 877.565.8860. These resources are available for those in crisis as well as those who love them.

4. Avoid judgment. If you’ve never been suicidal or lost someone to suicide, you kind of sound like an asshole when you say things like, “Suicide is the coward’s way out,” or that it’s selfish or weak. Put yourself in the shoes of the people affected. Suicide is a result of isolation and despair, catalyzed by life events that feel insurmountable. If you can’t empathize with that, it might be best to just shut your mouth.

5. Remember that suicide doesn’t discriminate. Kate Spade was rich and famous, but that doesn’t preclude her or anyone else from suffering. Suicide affects people from every possible walk of life, and especially middle aged folks and those later on in life.

Hopefully this helps aid in conversations and sharing about Kate Spade’s death. If you’re interested in learning more about suicide safe reporting guidelines, click here.

If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. Please stay. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved — even when you can’t feel it — and you are worth your life.

You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877–565–8860 (U.S.) or 877–330–6366 (Canada), The Trevor Project at 866–488–7386, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800–273–8255. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, or check out Lifeline Crisis Chat. If you’d like to talk to a peer, warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you’d like to read the stories of suicide attempt survivors across the United States, check out Live Through This. If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.

Written by

Dese’Rae L. Stage is an artist, mom, suicidologist, speaker, student, & activist based in Philadelphia, PA. deseraestage.com & livethroughthis.org

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