Designer Kate Spade Dies at 55

Businesswoman’s Death Highlights Mental Health Risks for Women

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, June 5, 2018 / -- Kate Spade, American fashion designer and businesswoman, died today at the age of 55 from a reported suicide. We urge the press to take note that research shows responsible reporting can help save the lives of others with mental health conditions. 28 women die by suicide every day in the US and over 10,200 women take their own lives each year (CDC, 2017). For middle-aged women, suicide remains among the top 10 leading causes of death.

While the suicide rate is rising consistently across demographic groups, risk peaks for women in middle age. There was a 127.67% increase in suicide deaths of women aged 45-64 between 1999 and 2016 (CDC, 2017). According to the CDC, 4,253 women from this age group died from suicide in 2016.

"Women of any socio-demographic group can die by suicide. People who are suicidal often find it difficult to see past their successes, their families or anything but their current struggle,” says Julie Cerel, PhD, President of the American Association of Suicidology.

Many of Spade’s fans may question why someone so successful might die by suicide. While each suicide is unique to the individual, it is important to recognize warning signs of suicide in those around us. In the case of women in middle age, some of these warning signs might manifest as financial, professional, and relationship difficulties, as well as social isolation and increased substance use. If you or someone you know have had thoughts of suicide, please use the resources below or seek professional help.

Subject Matter Experts for Media Contact:
April Foreman, PhD -
Julie Cerel, PhD -

Resources available for support:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line - Text START to 741 741
TREVOR Project - 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860


For the media: We urge members of the media to share suicide prevention resources in all of their reports. Responsible reporting on suicide and the inclusion of stories of hope and resilience can prevent more suicides. You can find more information on safe messaging around suicide here -

About AAS: Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at

Colleen Creighton
American Association of Suicidology
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