Cheslie Kryst privately struggled with depression before her death, mother says

Cheslie Kryst posing in a gingham outfit and "Miss USA" sash.
Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst died Sunday at age 30.
(Andy Kropa / Invision / Associated Press)

The mother of Cheslie Kryst has issued a statement mourning the loss of her daughter after the Miss USA winner’s death was ruled a suicide.

On Wednesday, April Simpkins confirmed that her daughter privately struggled with depression before she died Sunday at age 30 in New York City. Kryst made history in 2019 when she and two other Black contestants swept the coveted titles of Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe in the same year.

“I have never known a pain as deep as this. I am forever changed,” Simpkins wrote in a statement. “Today, what our family and friends privately knew was the cause of death of my sweet baby girl, Cheslie, was officially confirmed.


“While it may be hard to believe, it’s true. Cheslie led both a public and a private life. In her private life, she was dealing with high-functioning depression which she hid from everyone — including me, her closest confidant — until very shortly before her death.”

‘She was always there for you,’ Rachel Lindsay said of her ‘Extra’ co-host Cheslie Kryst. ‘It just makes you think, were you there enough for her?’

Feb. 1, 2022

After garnering international fame as a trailblazing beauty queen, Kryst joined “Extra” as a New York correspondent in 2019. On Monday, the entertainment news program aired a memorial segment for Kryst featuring interviews with her friends and colleagues.

“While her life on this earth was short, it was filled with many beautiful memories,” Simpkins continued. “We miss her laugh, her words of wisdom, her sense of humor and mostly her hugs. We miss all of it — we miss all of her. She was a vital part of our family which makes this loss even more devastating.

“Cheslie — to the world, you were a ball of sunshine wrapped in smiles. We talked, FaceTimed or texted one another all day, every day. You were more than a daughter — you were my very best friend. Talking with you was one of the best parts of my day. Your smile and laugh were infectious.”

Tamron Hall, Viola Davis and Danielle Brooks are among those mourning Cheslie Kryst, the former Miss USA and “Extra” correspondent, who died Sunday.

Jan. 31, 2022

Since Sunday, a number of activists, institutions and entertainment luminaries have paid tribute to Kryst on social media. Among the first to salute the beloved attorney and broadcast journalist were the Miss USA and Miss Universe organizations, as well as Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi.

In lieu of flowers, Kryst’s family has requested donations to Dress for Success, one of multiple humanitarian organizations the rising media star supported.


“I love you baby girl with all my heart,” Simpkins wrote. “I miss you desperately. I know one day we’ll be together again. Until then, rest easy and in peace.”

Also on Wednesday, Miss Teen USA 2019, Kaliegh Garris, shared a moving eulogy to her fellow pageant winner on Instagram. Garris recalled living in “the titleholder apartment” with Kryst, who kept in her room a list of affirmations and reminders, including “Be a good role model for Kaliegh.”

“I can confidently say, without a doubt, she was and always will be the best role model to me,” Garris wrote.

“Cheslie, you taught, supported, and loved me with all your heart. ... You believed in me, even when I didn’t. You always gave me the confidence to be myself, to speak up for myself, and to push through any hurdle I was facing. You meant the world to me and to so many others. For all of this and so much more, I am eternally grateful.”

If you or someone you know is exhibiting warning signs of suicide, seek help from a professional and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255).