New details emerge about Kate Spade’s suicide, personal struggles

NEW YORK — The sister of celebrated fashion designer Kate Spade said she may have taken her own life because of a struggle with mental illness. Spade was found dead Tuesday in her New York apartment. Her sister said in an e-mail to CBS This Morning that she believed Spade suffered from bi-polar disorder.

Police said a housekeeper found Spade hanging from a red scarf tied to a doorknob in her bedroom. Her husband Andy was home at the time. The designer left a suicide note addressed to her 13-year-old daughter, telling her it was not her fault.

“The contents of that note as well as the physical state of the apartment and the comments of the witness lend to the credibility that it is an apparent suicide,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermont Shea.

Her family said in a statement, “We are all devastated” and “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly.” Her older sister, Reta Saffo, suspects the designer may have suffered from bipolar disorder.

Saffo told CBS This Morning she “tried numerous times to get her help.”

“I think women do want something that’s interesting,” said Spade in July 2000.

The 55 year old became a fashion industry darling in the 1990s with a simple but whimsical style.

“Some color, some texture, some prints. I don’t know. I think something a little more interesting. But also elegant,” she said in the interview.

She and her husband Andy built a fashion empire around her signature handbags.

Kate Spade stepped away from the limelight after selling her company in 2007 but she recently mounted a comeback.

“I, personally — I don’t know about Andy — took off a good nine years raising my daughter, and absolutely adored every moment of it,” she said.

Police said she may have taken her own life because of money and marital problems.

Many of Spade’s friends and famous clientele are sending sending tributes using social media. Her brother-in-law, actor David Spade, tweeted a picture of her at a book signing and he said ‘I love this pic of her. So pretty…. It’s a rough world out there people. Try to hang on.”