After Kate Spade's death, let's rethink how we talk about suicide.

You're never alone.

At around 10:20 a.m. on June 5, 2018, fashion icon Kate Spade was found dead in her New York apartment.

She was 55 years old.

The Associated Press was early to report news of the legendary handbag designer's death. From the outside, she seemed to have it all: a husband/business partner, a 13-year-old daughter, and millions of dollars.


As is so often the case with suicide, however, this view from the outside didn't tell nearly the whole story.

​Kate Spade attends the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006. Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images for TFF.

As people paid tribute on social media, some started an important conversation about how we talk about suicide.

Let's face it: Talking about mental health and suicide is never easy. Between the stigma that surrounds it and the struggles some have to get the health care they need, it's easy to just let a lot of commonsense things go unsaid — which only increases the stigma.

On Twitter, a number of people stepped forward to break the silence around the topic.

Empathy was a common theme in many of these posts.

Others offered up a simple tip: Check in on family and friends who might feel vulnerable in the wake of this high profile news. A simple, "I just wanted to say hi and see how you're doing" can go a long way.

Another common theme was a reminder that depression isn't always easy to spot in others.

Even worse, some people feel too embarrassed to reach out when they need help, especially those who look outwardly successful. "Kate Spade was an entrepreneurial and artistic force, and all of us know that already," Anne T. Donahue wrote. "But what we don't tend to is what's going on behind the scenes."

Lots of people spoke up to remind those struggling that overcoming embarrassment in order to ask for help is really tough — and that's OK.

Journalist Ana Marie Cox shared the secrets to overcoming that: reminding yourself that you are loved and understanding when to ask for help. You're probably underestimating how many people in your life care deeply for you.

LGBTQ advocate Charlotte Clymer urged people to keep in mind how their words can affect others during times of tragedy. For example, this isn't the time or place to say things like, "Well, I didn't like her bags anyway." Resources like Reporting on Suicide are great for journalists as well as the rest of us.

Another crucial issue many are bringing up is the fact that suicide is a public health issue.

"Depression is a life threatening illness just like heart disease, cancer, or sepsis," tweeted Dr. Eugene Gu. "There should be no stigma about mental health — only treatment, awareness, and compassion."

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by these discussions, there's no shame in signing off the internet for the day. Take care of yourself. The world will still be here in the morning.

And if you find yourself in a crisis, there are many important resources worth keeping on hand, among them the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255), the Crisis Text Line (text "HOME" to 741741), and the Trevor Project (866-488-7386).

If you're in a bad place, these organizations are there to help without judgment. There's no shame in calling them up.

Finally, if you know of a friend who is considering suicide, there are some simple things you can do to help them out.

Twitter user @erinscafe shared a great list that tackles the issue. "Be the lifeline they can grab onto if they need it."

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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