A medical examiner has officially declared Kate Spade’s death suicide by hanging, nearly two days after the fashion designer was found dead in her New York City apartment.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for New York’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the agency determined Spade’s cause of death to be hanging and the manner suicide. The declaration comes as friends and family members open up about the final months of the 55-year-old’s life.
“Kate suffered from depression and anxiety for many years,” Spade’s husband, Andy, said in a statement to PEOPLE on Wednesday. “She was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives. We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy,”
“There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”
Police said a housekeeper found Spade, née Katherine Noel Brosnahan, Tuesday morning in her bedroom at her Park Avenue home in Manhattan. A police source confirmed to PEOPLE that Spade was alone when she died.
Andy, the brother of actor and comedian David Spade, said he and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Frances Beatrix were struggling to cope with the loss.
“Kate was the most beautiful woman in the world,” he said in the statement to PEOPLE. “She was the kindest person I’ve ever known and my best friend for 35 years. My daughter and I are devastated by her loss, and can’t even begin to fathom life without her. We are deeply heartbroken and miss her already.”
Spade’s suicide has rattled the fashion world where she made her name, largely on her namesake handbags — the foundation of an accessories business that eventually grew to billion-dollar prominence. She founded the label with Andy in 1993 and sold her ownership stake in 2006. However, in 2016, Spade returned from the decade-long fashion hiatus to launch her second act in fashion, accessories line Frances Valentine, named after her daughter.
Andy also spoke about the couple’s marital troubles, revealing that he and Spade had been living separately for the past 10 months. Despite their separation, he said, the parents were determined to keep their daughter first.
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“Bea was living with both of us and we saw each other or spoke every day,” he told PEOPLE, referring to the child by her nickname. “We ate many meals together as a family and continued to vacation together as a family. Our daughter was our priority.”
And the love Spade had for her daughter was clear to those that knew her.
“I saw her a lot with her daughter, you could tell she cared about her a lot,” a resident in Spade’s apartment building told PEOPLE. “She loved her daughter and she always looked happy.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).