Mental health is a retail management issue
The news yesterday that Kate Spade, the designer famous for starting the luxury handbag brand that carried her name, died of an apparent suicide has shocked many within the industry. In taking her own life, Ms. Spade’s act reflects government figures that show a growing number of Americans committing suicide in recent years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the second largest cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 34 in 2016. It was the fourth leading cause of death among those between 35 and 54. The CDC has reported that suicides have increased since its last official report.
It is increasingly common to hear of suicide discussed in terms of having reached epidemic proportions. Reports of suicides committed by members of the armed forces or middle-age adults struggling with opioid addiction have become increasingly common on television, in publications and on media sites in recent years.
The retailing and consumer brand industries are a reflection of the society they serve with workers coming from all walks of life. Depression and suicide, as Ms. Spade’s suicide illustrates, is not just reserved for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
It is important to understand that suicides are frequently tied to depression. While many find it difficult to talk about mental health, it is important for companies and their managers to openly address the issue with employees to help remove the stigma associated with getting help.
Even companies that do not offer mental health coverage can play a role in suicide prevention. According to a Quartz article, the key to preventing suicide is to talk about it. There are a variety of free resources that people can access, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line.
- The way we discuss suicide can unintentionally cause harm, but it doesn’t have to – Quartz
- We Need to Talk About Mental Health at Work – Glamour
- Kate Spade, Whose Handbags Carried Women Into Adulthood, Is Dead at 55 – The New York Times
- Suicide Prevention – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States 2016 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- The Crisis Text Line
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do mental health issues affect the workplace, based on your experience? Where do you see opportunities for employers to positively address this issue for the good of employees and their business?