Kate Spade Fixated on Robin Williams Suicide, Sister Says

Kate Spade's sister Reta Saffo addressed the designer's heartbreaking apparent suicide on Tuesday, saying Spade seemed fixated on late actor Robin Williams' suicide, and that she believes there was a plan "even as far back as then," The Kansas City Star reports.

"We were freaked out/saddened," Saffo said. She and Spade were in a Santa Fe hotel when news broke of Williams' death. "But she kept watching it and watching it over and over. I think the plan was already in motion even as far back as then."

In the rest of the interview, Spade's older sister claimed that Spade suffered from mental illness for the last few years and that she was self-medicating with alcohol.

The 55-year-old was found dead inside the bedroom of her New York Park Avenue apartment, which Saffo says was not "unexpected by me," as members of Spade's family supposedly tried to help the late fashion designer.

"Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves," Saffo wrote in an email to the publication, adding that Spade seemed worried about how hospitalization would affect the Kate Spade brand's image.

"I will say this was not unexpected by me. 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 added.

"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). I'd spoken with them on the phone (not telling them exactly who the patient would be). They agreed to fly in and talk with her and take her with them to the treatment center," she went on.

"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) 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, and 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. She was definitely worried about what people would say if they found out," Saffo wrote.

Saffo claimed that even Spade's husband, Andy Spade, tried to encourage her to get treatment, even making plans about who would take care of their daughter, Frances Valentine. Nothing ever came of it, however, Saffo said.

"After numerous attempts, I finally let go," she continued. "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."

Saffo ended her telling email about her sister, saying she was a a "dear little person. So dear — so kind, so funny."

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Spade is survived by several family members, including daughter Frances, sister Saffo, husband and business partner Andy, and his actor-brother David Spade.

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