What Color Would Your Scarf Be?
If you’re like me, then you may have found the recent news of Kate Spade (Valentine’s) recent death by suicide a shock. At first I was shaking my head in disbelief…and then, I wasn’t.
I, like so many, admired Kate from afar. She built her business from a conversation over dinner with Andy – “let’s start a handbag business.” Her handbags appealed to the modern woman by solving our accessory issues; she broke through the proverbial glass ceiling; she gave back; she became a mother.
She is, and was, an icon.
But truth be told she must have been suffering very, very deeply to take her own life.
Many people are asking, “why, how can that be?” But at the end of the day… does it matter? Mental health issues do not discriminate. I should know; I have almost died a number of times by my own hand, and have gone public with my story.
What continues to trouble me is that those of us suffering with mental illness, and who are contemplating suicidal thoughts, suffer with a stigma, and in silence. Mental illness has nothing to do with wealth, privilege, poverty, education, gender, or ethnicity; and yet the numbers of those who suffer continue to rise, and many – like Kate Spade, and now Anthony Bourdain – suffer and feel as though they have no alternative.
I founded the movement, The Truth Behind Our Titles, to take a stand for those who need a voice particularly in Corporate America for otherwise stigmatized issues, including my own. But I have found it so hard to get backing and support for this concept – very few, if any, want to come forward with our stories. Why? Because we are judged, we are misunderstood, or worse, we may be sidelined.
With news from this week, it’s hard for me not to ask myself: what color would my scarf be? And the answer is: blue. Yes, blue; as it’s my favorite color.
You may ask: how can I say that? How could I think such things? The answer is: because my brain isn’t wired like other people’s. I, like Kate Spade, have dark thoughts, but am grateful to be under excellent treatment, and consider myself healthy for today.
But that doesn’t stop me from thinking of the color of my scarf. Blue. And I know there are many, many people thinking about what color theirs would be. We need to be able to talk about these hard topics openly, honestly, without fear; de-stigmatizing suicide. I know this is a hugely complex issue. One that garners much more than just “talking”. However, for me, being able to tell my story, and maybe others, one at a time, without stigma, might bring these walls down. I would love if no one else’s scarf is found tied to a doorknob.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to www.SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.