(NEW YORK) — Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst died Sunday, her family confirmed. She was 30 years old.
In a statement, Kryst’s family wrote, “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,” Kryst’s family added. “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.”
Kryst died by apparent suicide in New York City, where she lived.
Just hours before the incident, she shared a photo of herself on Instagram and wrote in the caption, “May this day bring you rest and peace.”
Kryst was crowned Miss USA as Miss North Carolina in May 2019. She earned her law degree and an MBA at Wake Forest University. Following her graduation, Kryst became licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina and worked as a civil litigation attorney. She also worked pro bono for clients who were low-level drug offenders.
Kryst also became a correspondent for Extra and was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards.
In response to the news of her death, Extra paid tribute to the former Miss USA winner and said, “our hearts are broken.”
“Cheslie was not just a vital part of our show, she was a beloved part of our ‘Extra’ family and touched the entire staff,” Extra wrote on their Instagram page. “Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends.”
Kryst spoke out about mental health during her reign as Miss USA, saying she spoke with a counselor and took steps to protect her mental health.
“I do a lot to maintain my mental health, and the most important thing that I did is talk to a counselor,” she wrote in a post on the Miss USA Facebook page in 2019. “When I’m not talking to a counselor, I take time at the end of every single day to just decompress. I unplug. I shut my phone off. I don’t answer messages. I just sit and watch my favorite movies.”
Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent, said Monday on Good Morning America that when someone dies by suicide, people may wonder if they missed warning signs. But there should be no blame.
“If you’ve lost someone to suicide, this is not your fault,” said Ashton, who wrote the book Life After Suicide after her ex-husband died by suicide five years ago. “It can be difficult to pick up on these because what’s on the surface may not reflect what’s on the inside.”
If someone is worried about a friend or loved ones’ mental health, specific signs that people can look for include a person giving away their possessions and pets, saying they are a burden, showing behavioral changes like being more withdrawn or expressing feelings that they’ve lost hope, according to Ashton.
“The first and most important thing is you have to actually ask them, ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide or self-harm?'” said Ashton. “This will not put an idea in their head. If they answer yes, take that seriously. Do not leave them alone. Assure them there is always hope and help.”
Ashton continued, “Acknowledge that you can see they’re in pain. If necessary, bring them to an emergency room and get professional help.”
If you are in crisis or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada) and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.
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