Death of former Miss USA sparks mental health conversations

Death of 2019′s Miss USA sparking mental health conversations
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 7:55 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2022 at 7:57 PM EST
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NORTH CAROLINA, N.C. (WITN) - Cheslie Kryst, 2019′s Miss USA, attorney, and entertainment news correspondent, seemed like she had it all.

“She was just such a role model. It was shocking to know that she was battling some things that people had no idea about,” former Miss North Carolina competitor Jerenae Raeford said.

Kryst’s battle came to an end Sunday when police say she died from suicide at her Manhattan apartment.

“I was very, very, very shocked, very sad. It just feels incredibly unreal,” Raeford expressed.

For Raeford, Kryst was a member of her pageant family and support system.

“Even more within the black community, because when Cheslie was first runner-up, there had only been one other black Miss North Carolina. So, when there were other girls going after that, it was kind of a tight-knit situation and club, if you will,” Raeford said.

Keith Hamm, a mental health expert with Integrated Family Services, said sometimes, someone’s outward appearance doesn’t reflect what’s going on internally. He said there are signs people can look out for in loved ones that may be struggling.

Hamm added that if people do notice changes in family or friends, they should start a conversation.

“We need to reach out, don’t ignore it. And don’t think that it’s something that will pass. It may not,” Hamm said.

While Kryst’s life is over, her memory lives on, especially in the hearts of the people she inspired the most.

“She only lived 30 short years, but made an incredible, incredible impact and I definitely think that she will continue to do so,” Raeford said.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, there are people who can help. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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