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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – The sister of celebrated fashion designer Kate Spade says she may have taken her own life because of a struggle with mental illness.

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Spade was found dead yesterday in her New York apartment.

The police said a housekeeper found Spade hanging from a red scarf tied to a doorknob in her bedroom. Her husband Andy was home at the time. The designer left a suicide note addressed to her 13-year-old daughter, telling her it was not her fault.

“The contents of that note, as well as the physical state of the apartment and the comments of the witness, lend to the credibility that it is an apparent suicide,” said NYPD chief of detectives Dermot Shea.

Her family said in a statement, “we are all devastated…” and …we loved Kate dearly and will miss her terribly.”

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Spade’s older sister, Reta Saffo, suspects the designer may have suffered from bipolar disorder and said she “…tried numerous times to get her help” to no avail. Saffo said Kate thought seeking help would tarnish her brand’s reputation.

The 55-year-old became a fashion industry darling in the 1990s with a simple but whimsical style. She and her husband built a fashion empire around her signature handbags. Spade stepped away from the limelight after selling her company in 2007, but she recently mounted a comeback.

Police say she may have taken her own life because of money and marital problems.

Many of Spade’s friends and famous clientele are sending tributes using social media. Her brother-in-law, actor David Spade, tweeted a picture of her a book signing and he said ‘i love this pic of her, so pretty. it’s a rough world out there, people.’

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Kate Spade’s aspirational, but affordable designs influenced popular culture. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour said, “there was a moment when you couldn’t walk a block in new york without seeing one of her bags, which were just like her, colorful and unpretentious.”