‘You are not alone’: Former Miss USA death sparks conversations about mental health

The death of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst has sparked conversations about the importance of raising awareness for mental illness.
Cheslie Kryst
Cheslie Kryst (Credit: BET Networks/Youtube)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The death of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst has sparked conversations about the importance of raising awareness for mental illness.

The 30-year-old Charlotte native was crowned Miss North Carolina before becoming Miss USA in 2019, she was an attorney and a correspondent for Extra Entertainment News. Some say she appeared to have it all before taking her own life on Sunday. 

Dr. Erika Geisler, a psychologist in Wilmington, says society has a way of focusing on our high points, not necessarily our everyday reality.

“We do Facebook and Instagram and all that and everything always looks fabulous, but behind the scenes, things are really far from perfect,” Geisler said. “I think it’s important to take time to get to know your friends and your neighbors and what’s going on with them and how they’re feeling because things aren’t always as they appear.”

The psychologist says the tragedy serves as a reminder to check on your loved ones, look beyond the surface, and take care of your own mental health the same way you take care of your physical health.

“Nowadays, we’re all so busy with all of the things we have going on, and it’s really important for us to take the time and listen to our friends about what it is that’s going on for them,” Geisler said.

Kryst’s friend and current Miss North Carolina Carli Batson says she was an inspiration, sharing a statement that reads:

“Cheslie Kryst was an incredible person and an inspiration to us all. She encouraged us to reach our dreams and was a woman known for her grit, tenacity, and ability to break any and every glass ceiling. She was beautiful, a businesswoman, a philanthropist, and a warrior for social justice. She became a catalyst for women of color in the field of pageantry when she won the title of Miss USA in 2019. Cheslie had the rare ability to make the people around her shine just as brightly as she did. To know her was to love her. It was always hard not to admire her for her effortless beauty and success in her career. Her death leaves us heartbroken, but it reminds us all how important it is to check on our friends and loved ones. Check on your happy friend, your successful friend, your busy friend, your single friend, your married friend, the friend you haven’t seen in years & the friends you see every day. Cheslie’s story is devastating, but no one is alone. Help is available and if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. North Carolina holds Cheslie’s family, friends, and pageant community in our hearts tonight and always.” 
Dr. Geisler says the options for getting help are endless, encouraging everyone to see a therapist regularly, reach out to friends, and contact the National Suicide Hotline if you find yourself struggling.

“Your story is so far from over. Where you are right in this moment and the sadness that you’re feeling, that will pass. It’s fixable, even if it feels too heavy. It’s completely fixable,” Geisler said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255. The line is open 24/7. You are not alone.

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