When A Woman Commits Suicide, Why Is Our First Instinct To Assume Something Went Wrong With Her Relationship?
I hope that whoever is charged with fashion designer L’Wren Scott’s burial packs that dirt on deep. Because in the days since her tragic suicide at the age of 49, the media has done nothing but give Scott reasons to roll over in her grave.
I’m sure you’re well aware of the biggest reason: upon her death, The New York Times tweeted “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend Found Dead, Official Says.” Scott designed gowns worn by Angelina Jolie and Michelle Obama, modeled for Calvin Klein and Chanel, created lipstick for Lancome, and collaborated with Banana Republic on a collection that sold out. But according to the Times’ Twitter feed she amounted nothing more than some rock star’s girlfriend.
That’s sexist and irritating enough. But the other story missing here is one that concerns the “rock star girlfriend” angle, too: how everyone’s first assumption was that Mick Jagger was the reason that L’Wren Scott took her own life.
No one except L’Wren Scott and Mick Jagger know anything about the status of their relationship at the time of her death. And frankly, it’s no one else’s business. But from what little that we the public can glean from gossip columns, it actually seems like L’Wren Scott had other huge problems on her mind — specifically how her company was $6 or $7 million in debt and she was understandably panicking. I direct you also to a lovely tribute by the New York Times’ former fashion critic, Cathy Hornyn, about her friend.
According to Hornyn, Scott — who had “an incredible work ethic” — was planning to close her business and make the official announcement today. She continued:
Like many small designers, she had problems managing her business: cash flow, finding the right managers, getting her goods out of Italian factories on schedule. Two years ago, our friendship was tested when, after hearing her troubles, I told her she should give herself a time limit to resolve matters or get out. Putting her health in jeopardy because of stress was not worth it, I told her. She didn’t like the advice. And true to form, she dug in. … Still, as painful as the decision must have been for her, I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from it about her state of mind. Nor should any credence be given to reports of a breakup with Mick. It’s rubbish.
Well, that’s a different narrative entirely: it may not have been a relationship gone south that drove L’Wren Scott to suicide, it may have been … her career.
I lost a dear friend to suicide over the holidays. What little that I know about suicide is that the oppressing depression that leads a person to take his or her own life is an amalgamation of things that all seem to be unmanageable. In other words, it’s not usually just one thing — otherwise, we’d all be committing suicide when we fail the LSATs or our best friend dumps us. Why haven’t people considered L’Wren Scott as a fashion designer and businesswoman first and a celebrity girlfriend second? Career and work issues cause me a lot more grief than romantic ones; for other driven, successful women, I suspect that experience is the same.
No, taking one’s own life over issues relating to one’s job isn’t a sexy story. It certainly doesn’t fit into the “Almost Famous” narrative of flighty and passionate hotties who are desperate for love from sexy rock stars who won’t commit. A business woman who is depressed because she’s $7 million in debt and has to shut down her company doesn’t sell quite as many tabloid magazines as “MICK FOUND FONDLING BABE IN BRAZIL!!!” There are probably a lot of women — ones without jobs they passionately love, ones who don’t have a lot of “independence” which Hornyn said was part of her “success” with Mick— who can’t relate to that storyline at all.
But for a successful business woman falling on hard times, it may well have been the truth.
[Image via Getty]