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Kate Spade Suffered From Mental Illness and Suicide ‘Was Not Unexpected,’ Sister Claims

Kate Spade’s sister Reta Saffo claimed in a new interview that the late fashion designer suffered a debilitating mental illness for the past three or four years and had been self-medicating with alcohol.

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Saffo, 57, alleged to the Kansas City Star that Kate’s apparent suicide at age 55 in her New York City apartment on Tuesday, June 5, “was not unexpected by me.” She claimed she tried to help Kate “get the treatment she needed” at an inpatient facility because the Kate Spade New York cofounder “became full-on manic depressive” in recent years.

Fashion designer Kate Spade
Fashion designer Kate Spade David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images

“I’d come so VERY close to getting her to go in for treatment (to the same place Catherine Zeta-Jones went for her successful bipolar treatment program),” Saffo claimed in an email to the newspaper. “She was all set to go — but then chickened out by morning. I even said I [would] go with her and be a ‘patient’ too (she liked that idea).”

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Saffo further alleged that Kate’s husband and creative partner, Andy Spade, also tried to help his wife of 24 years seek treatment, but “nothing ever came of it.”

“After numerous attempts, I finally let go,” the sister added. “Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves! One of the last things she said to me was, ‘Reta, I know you hate funerals and don’t attend them, but for me would you PLEASE come to MINE, at least. Please!’ I know she perhaps had a plan, but she insisted she did not. … She was a dear little person. So dear — so kind, so funny.”

Related: Most Shocking Celebrity Deaths of All Time

Us Weekly confirmed earlier on Tuesday that the fashion icon hung herself with a red scarf. She was discovered by her housekeeper at approximately 10:20 a.m. ET and pronounced dead at the scene. She left a note nearby that was reportedly addressed to her 13-year-old daughter, Frances. Multiple sources told Us that Kate and Andy, 55, had separated before her death.

“We are all devastated by today’s tragedy,” the Spade family said in a statement to the Associated Press. “We loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly. We would ask that our privacy be respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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