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Kate Spade Shocker: Sister Claims Designer Was Mentally Ill, Suicide 'Not Unexpected'

Kate Spade Sister Suicide Not Unexpected
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Jan. 4 2019, Updated 10:20 a.m. ET

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Hours after Kate Spade's tragic suicide, her older sister Reta Saffo boldly spoke out — but her heartbroken family was less than thrilled with the shocking new allegations.

In an email to The Star on Tuesday, the fashion designer's sibling said that the horrific suicide "was not unexpected by me."

She added that Spade, 55, had struggled with mental illness for years, and had recently begun self-medicating with alcohol.

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"Sometimes you simply cannot SAVE people from themselves!" Saffo, 57, continued, adding that Spade refused to get treatment for her mental illness because she was afraid it would damage her "happy-go-lucky" brand.

Hearing Saffo's comments, however, a source told PEOPLE that Spade's inconsolable family was "disgusted."

According to the insider, Spade and her sister had become estranged in recent years, and Saffo did not know the designer was actually a "kind, generous, funny, warm and extremely private person."

"The family is disgusted and saddened that at this time of great sorrow, Kate's sister who has been estranged from the entire family for more than 10 years would choose to surface with unsubstantiated comments," the source said to PEOPLE. "Her statements paint a picture of someone who didn't know her at all."

As readers know, Kate Spade's housekeeper found her unconscious body hanging inside her Park Avenue bedroom this Tuesday morning. Next to her were two suicide notes, one for her daughter Frances Beatrix and one for her husband, Andy.

Kate Spade
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According to a report, Spade's longtime husband moved out of their Manhattan home and demanded a divorce just days before her suicide. In her note to her daughter, the designer allegedly wrote: "Bea – I have always loved you… This is not your fault. Ask Daddy!"

Stay with for updates.

If you or someone you know is in an emotional distress or suicidal, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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