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What happens to the loved ones of suicide victims?

Posted: 6:55 PM, Jun 06, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-06 23:17:34Z

Fashion designer Kate Spade's sunny public persona, as bright and colorful as her well-loved handbags, belied a lifelong struggle with mental illness that ended Tuesday in her suicide. 

For every person who might have suspected a slow decline in Spade's mental health -- her older sister, Retta Saffo, told the Kansas City Star she had unsuccessfully pushed Spade toward psychiatric treatment for years -- there were thousands more who never would have guessed. 

"She was so sharp and quick on her feet," brother-in-law David Spade wrote in an Instagram post the day of her death. "She could make me laugh so hard. I still can't believe it."

Carol Hines didn't know Kate Spade, but she knows the pain of losing a loved one to the invisible monster of mental illness. Her son, Michael, killed himself 26 years ago. 

Two years after his death, she started a support group for people like herself: Those left behind with questions and seemingly untreatable pain after a friend or family member's suicide. Survivors of Suicide helps its members work through a bereavement many of them never anticipated.

"Everybody who's at the meeting has been where everybody else is," Hines said. "They know what a different type of death this is."

Survivors of Suicide meets at Christ Church in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, on the first Tuesday of each month.

If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255. Those uncomfortable with a phone call can contact the 24-hour Crisis Text Line by sending a message to 741741.