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Stigma And Suicide

To the family of friends of Kate Spade, I give my sincere sympathies and condolences.

If there is somebody to blame in this sad affair it is not Kate Spade but rather society in general. 

kate spade photoIt is not an easy thing to be mentally ill. I remember once I was in the pool for jury duty. The judge commented that if there was somebody who had a reason they couldn’t serve when they were called they could discuss it with the judge privately. One of my fellow prospective jurors made a joke about mental illness and laughter rang out in the air. Needless to say being a person with mental illness I was offended, but I held my tongue for obvious reasons.

That is the reality of mental illness it is misunderstood, and vilified by the ignorant. Apparently, Kate Spade had ‘secretly’ suffered from depression for a few years. She had the ability to hide her illness. It was her decision not to seek treatment. This wouldn’ t have been the case if she had a heart problem or cancer or some other physical ailment. But because it was mental illness Kate was reluctant to seek help. I can only guess what role stigma was present and to what extent. Perhaps it cost her her very life.

If anything for the memory of a human being who felt enough despair to take her own life we should try to address the atmosphere in civilization. Why does mental illness have such a great negativity associated with it? Part of that answer is that it is greatly misunderstood. People in my community are judged by their worst moments as opposed to our worst. It is a very embarrassing thing to be taken into an ambulance or a police car to a hospital while the neighbors stand outside looking, I can say that by personal experience. For the ten things I did right I am judged by my bad moment.

Of course, mental illness is the convenient scapegoat when there is a mass murder such as a school shooting. The powers of society find it easier to say ‘mental illness’ must be addressed instead of the real cause which is our culture of violence. We need a kinder gentler world and in that kinder gentler world Kate Spade wouldn’t have feared to get treatment for her depression. She could have gone to therapy without any blasphemous whispers behind her back and people standing in judgment of her.

Of course, mental illness in the Kate Spade suicide is only the tip of the iceberg in a society filled with insidious lies. Why was Kate Spade depressed? I suspect that there was most likely a chemical imbalance in the brain. But there is another facet and that is that we as a civilization live in a lie. That lie is that success and material wealth will automatically lead to happiness. In fact, often one’s bank account is a means to compare one’s self-worth with another. Kate Spade, from what I hear, was at the top of her field. Still, she had an unhappy life to the point where her marriage was ending and she eventually took her own life.

Maybe Kate Spade never bit into the delusion of materialism, after all, I didn’t know her personally, so allow me to talk in generalities now. The ranks of the highest echelon of what we term ‘success’ is filled with miserable human beings. They are unhappy and disillusioned with life. At their zenith, where society congratulates them saying, “You got it made!” they are finding out that the core of the apple called ‘success’ is mockingly rotten.

There is an easy barometer or litmus test to get an idea of how a person is doing in life. You simply need to examine how they treat other human beings. People lacking simple kindness and courtesy are not happy people. Happy people are full of love and compassion, as, in fact, this is what brings genuine happiness. Happy people don’t need to turn to external substances such as drugs and alcohol to get by in life. Their self-worth and contentment are more powerful ups than any drug possibly could be. Happiness comes from good internals not good externals. All the money in the world won’t make you happy, but a little bit of love will.

It is high time in society that we call things with truth. Mental illness is a real disease like any other physical ailment and it should not be looked down upon. Furthermore, a life dedicated to materialism is not a strength but a weakness.

In writing blogs such as this and other writings I have put myself clearly into the community of the mentally ill. When the time comes to look for a job, a quick Google search will reveal my writings. Any prospective employer will quickly discover that I have a mental illness. Unfortunately, in the world, we live in today that would be viewed as a negative. That is as much wrong as it is true.

Please explore my own personal experience in my memoirs “More Than The Madness” I discuss how I overcame bipolar.

Photos by ralph and jenny,

Stigma And Suicide

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). Stigma And Suicide. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 6 Jun 2018
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