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Daphne Merkin

Kate Spade and the Illness Hidden With a Smile.


Suicide, no matter how well we know a person, usually comes as a shock, even a violation, putting the lie to our conviction that existence is to be cherished. The fact that taking one’s own life can exist on a parallel track with our ordinary days, in which we go out to dinner or put our children to bed or worry about growing old, always puts me in mind of W. H. Auden’s poem “Musée des Beaux Arts.” Overtly about the poet’s gazing upon Bruegel’s painting “The Fall of Icarus,” the poem evokes the relativity of tragedy and the isolation of despair: “About suffering,” it begins, “they were never wrong,/ The old Masters: how well they understood/ Its human position: how it takes place/ While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.”

We are all, always, outsiders when it comes to other people’s pain. But there is no starker reminder of that truth than suicide.

Serious depression, which almost always precedes suicide, retains not only the stigma of mental illness and is thus often undisclosed even to one’s nearest, but is also a fairly disguisable illness. Most often, it leaves no track marks. It comes without benefit of casts or bandages. It can be covered up with a smile and denied even by the one enduring it...


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The New York Times | June 8, 2018.

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