After tragic suicide of fashion designer Kate Spade, local mother shares her own struggles

SEATTLE -- It’s a tragic story that shocked many of us.  Fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead Tuesday morning, and authorities said she took her own life.

Officers say a housekeeper found her body in her New York apartment.  Many are taking to social media, posting the first bag they bought from her brand and remembering her life.

A local mother is sharing her own struggles and a local doctor is sharing what we can do to help our loved ones.

“Somebody can look like they have it together, but there’s a lot more to it than what people see,” says Summer Lee Blankenship.

Blankenship says she loves nothing more than spending time with her 7-year-old son.

“I want to be a good mom. So I just try to, any time I’m in a negative mindset, I try to not let that be shown to him,” says Blakenship.

She says for years, she struggled with drug abuse, self harm and suicidal thoughts.

“There was a lot of times where I didn’t want to be alive.  There’d be times where I’d drive into an intersection and wish that a semi would slam into the car. I felt was like I was in water, sinking into darkness and not having motivation or willingness to swim,” says Blankenship.

After hearing that Spade took her own life, she’s hopeful it starts a conversation about mental health and well-being.

And Dr. Jennifer O’Donnell says it’s that kind of openness that can lead to healing.

“Depression is one of those things that is common to all of us, but we don’t necessarily have the willingness to talk about it,” says O’Donnell.

She  says recognizing the warning signs early on is so important, and so is speaking up.

“If you open the conversation by saying things like, ‘I’ve noticed that you’re not gardening anymore or I’ve noticed that you are starting to cancel plans’, really focusing on the behaviors that you’ve noticed, and say ‘Is there anything I can do’ and encourage them to speak with their doctor,” says O’Donnell.

Blakenship says she plans to educate her son about mental health when he’s old enough to understand.

“There’s things that might be passed down through family history and I want him to be aware of these things,” says Blankenship.

These days, she’s focused on self care.

“I love myself enough today to respect myself enough to treat myself good.  Looking back I feel very sad for the person I was then; to think that I needed it to end like that or wanting it to end like that, because today my life is beautiful,” says Blakenship.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there is help.