Kate Spade Suicide 'Not Unexpected' Sister Says, Citing Years of Mental Illness

Kate Spade's older sister has shared more personal details about the fashion designer's death in a [...]

Kate Spade's older sister has shared more personal details about the fashion designer's death in a new interview, saying her apparent suicide was "not unexpected."

Reta Saffo corresponded with The Kansas City Star about her sibling's death via email and shared several unknown details about Spade, whom she described as "so dear, so kind, so funny."

She also revealed the Kate Spade New York founder's secret battles with mental health issues. In fact, Saffo alleges that she attempted to get Spade into a mental health treatment facility on several occasions.

"I will say this was not unexpected by me," Saffo wrote. "I'd flown out to Napa and NYC several times in the past 3-4 years to help her to get the treatment she needed (inpatient hospitalization). She was always a very excitable little girl, and I felt all the stress/pressure of her brand (KS) may have flipped the switch where she eventually became full-on manic depressive."

Saffo insists she did all she could for her little sister, including coordinating mental health experts to fly to New York City to discuss treatment options with her before discreetly traveling to a facility. Saffo, who lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico; even agreed to check into the facility with her.

"She was all set to go — but then chickened out by morning," Saffo wrote. "I even said I (would) go with her and be a 'patient' too (she liked that idea) I said we could talk about it all — our childhood, etc. That I could help her fill in any blanks she might have. ... That seemed to make her more comfortable."

The reason for Spade's refusal apparently stemmed from the public image of herself but also her company.

"We'd get sooo close to packing her bags, but — in the end, the 'image' of her brand (happy-go-lucky Kate Spade) was more important for her to keep up," Saffo wrote. "She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out."

Elsewhere in the interview, Saffo thinks she had planned to commit suicide for a long time, possibly as far back as August 2014. She said her sister was watching coverage of Robin Williams' death "over and over," and she thinks it inspired the late designer's actions.

She pressed on the issue of suicide plans several times over the years, but Spade always denied she would take her own life.

"After numerous attempts, I finally let go," Saffo wrote. "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."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).