By Florence Mafomemeh
The scary thing about mental health is that no one knows what is going on inside a person. You Never know what the person next to you is going through. No one saw it coming. Anyone who knew Cheslie Kryst whether as former Miss USA or correspondent for “EXTRA”, knew her as this happy, beautiful, smart, successful young woman with a big, flashy smile. Little did anyone know that she was hurting inside.
Kryst is just one among thousands of people who commit suicide every day in the U.S. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. In 2019, nearly 50 thousand Americans died by suicide and there were an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts. On average, 130 people die by suicide everyday in the U.S.
Cheslie Kryst who was Miss USA 2019 and correspondent for ‘EXTRA’ jumped to her death from the 29th floor of a Manhattan apartment building on Sunday morning and was pronounced dead on the scene. On Monday, the medical examiner said she died by suicide. According to police, Kryst’s body was found at about 7 a.m. in front of the Orion building, a high-rise on West 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan. Kryst was only 30 years old with so much promise.
Her family shared a statement confirming her death Sunday. “In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined. Cheslie embodied love and served others, whether through her work as an attorney fighting for social justice, as Miss USA and as a host on EXTRA. But most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague – we know her impact will live on,” the statement said.
In a statement Sunday, the nationally syndicated program “Extra” called her “not just a vital part of our show, she was a beloved part of our Extra family and touched the entire staff. Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends.”
Kryst, a former Division I athlete and North Carolina attorney, won the Miss USA pageant in May 2019, and competed in the Miss Universe pageant that year. She earned a law degree and an MBA at Wake Forest University before becoming a civil litigation attorney who does pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates.
In a statement on Twitter on Sunday, Miss America Official issued a statement on Kryst’s death: “We are heartbroken to hear about the passing of Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019. Cheslie was an incredible example and a role model for so many. We send our deepest condolences to her family, friends, and all those who knew her.”
With Kryst’s Miss USA win, 2019 became the first year that, for the first time, all four major U.S.-based pageants were won by Black women — including Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa (as Miss Universe), Nia Franklin (as Miss America) and Kaliegh Garris (as Miss Teen USA).
Kryst’s untimely death is just a scathing reminder of how many people are struggling especially in these times. That Mental health is real, widespread and has become a very serious public health crisis that should be tackled aggressively just like guns and other crises.
If you are having suicide thoughts or know someone who is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255 Or text TALK to 741741