Friday, June 8, 2018

A Last Word about Kate Spade

With the apparently sole exception of your humble blogger everyone has been taking the occasion of Kate Spade’s tragic suicide to offer up their own theories about suicide. I am slightly, but not overly surprised that no one has brought up the classic text on the subject, Emile Durkheim’s book Suicide. Admittedly, it was written more than a century ago, but it still holds up well. Which tells you something about the state of today’s theorizing.

I will not add my thoughts about the anguish that Spade must have suffering. I will not add any thoughts about the pain of depression and how it ultimately defeated her.

I have not done so because I do not have any real information about her case. Thus, commenting would be fatuous. And you know how much I avoid fatuity.

I have mentioned that we should want to know something about the treatment she was receiving. I hope I am not alone in assuming that a wealthy Park Avenue woman would have been receiving the best treatment that New York has to offer… and that said treatment might not have been very good at all.

I did not mention this specifically but we do know that SSRIs— Prozac and Co.— cause suicidal ideation. Among the high profile suicides in New York City, many of the victims were being treated by psychiatrists. We do not know that they were taking SSRIs, but it is not a crazy speculation.

With that being said, I draw your attention to a remark made by Kate Spade’s father, reported yesterday:

From the New York Post:

Kate Spade‘s father knew his daughter was having troubles — and begged her not to take the medication she’d been prescribed, according to a report.

“She’d been taking some pills, which I advised her not to take,” Frank Brosnahan told the Kansas City Star on Wednesday.

That’s all we know. And yet, if a nonagenarian saw that the medication was not helping his daughter or if he suspected that something was wrong, couldn’t a licensed psychiatrist have seen it too?


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

And now Anthony Bourdain...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

From Wikipedia article about Bourdain’s personal life, and his recent divorce from his second wife:

“The couple divorced amicably in 2016; Bourdain noted that having to be away from his wife and child for about 250 days a year working on his television shows became a strain.”

250 days on the road??? Looking at the lives of high-profile entertainers, it must be a brutal, lonely, dissociative life. Certainly Bourdain was a colorful, interesting man with strong opinions and curiosity (rarely mutual traits). He took us to other cultures and showed us their food styles, cooking and serving. It is fascinating to watch from the comfort of my living room. But the emotional, physical and spiritual strain of living the lifestyle to produce that body of work is certainly brutal. Everyone thinks you’re a star, while you must be horribly lonely. Like Kate Spade, I’m sure it’s not difficult to find a doctor somewhere who will give you prescriptions you need to stay afloat.

Fame seems to be what people so desperately want these days, but look at the real price. So many fascinating, talented storytellers and entertainers... gone. I suspect it is the lifestyle, where fame has everyone wanting a piece of you, and you reach a point where you have nothing left to give. Fame can’t love. Indeed, those are the two things that seem mutually exclusive. With emptiness so deep that you hang yourself.

And now there is peace.

JPL17 said...

Ignatius: I hadn't heard about Bourdain's suicide, how extremely sad. I agree fame can't love and leaves one empty during life's low points. But there are plenty of driven famous people who have hit lows and bounced back. I suspect the difference for the fame "survivors" is that they develop a firm spiritual grounding or make wise relationship choices, and scrupulously avoid drugs prone to induce suicidal thoughts in them. Stuart mentioned SSRIs, but I believe Ambien is a commonly-prescribed non-SSRI notorious for causing temporary psychosis in some users. I would bet that Ambien is involved in at least a few of the celebrity suicides.

JPL17 said...

Stuart -- If I could just follow up on your comment about SSRIs. I recall reading somewhere that the risk of suicidal ideation is much higher during the first several weeks of taking them, and that the effect usually subsides after that. Have you observed that in your experience?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I cannot offer a good answer to your observation. I am not a psychiatrist and do not prescribe medication. I know of the studies about the side-effects of anti-depressants, but not much more. I have noted that a number of the New York suicides-- jumping out of tall buildings-- were committed by people who were being treated with SSRIs or another medication. I should mention that if Spade was bipolar, SSRIs are not the first thing to prescribe. Again, we do not know who made which diagnosis, but there are different kinds of depression and they require different treatments.

Very sad to hear about Anthony Bourdain... will await developments and further information before opining.