In a heartbreaking statement on Wednesday, April Simpkins said her daughter privately suffered with “high-functioning depression” and urges those “struggling with thoughts of suicide” to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
“I have never known a pain as deep as this. I am forever changed,” Simpkins began. Kryst’s death was ruled a suicide. “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 confidante — until very shortly before her death,” Simpkins added. “While her life on this earth was short, it was filled with many beautiful memories. 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.”
Simpkins included a message to her daughter: “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. I love you baby girl with all my heart. I miss you desperately. I know one day we’ll be together again. Until then, rest easy and in peace.”
In lieu of flowers, Simpkins asks people to make a donation to Dress for Success, “an organization that was dear to her heart.”
“Thank you all for continuing to respect the privacy of our family while we grieve,” she concluded.
When Kryst was Miss USA 2019, she was was one of four Black women to make history as they simultaneously held the four highest pageant titles in the world. Kryst was also an attorney and spoke to Yahoo Life in 2020 about wanting to use her platform to advocate for important issues like social justice and criminal justice reform.
The Miss Universe Organization remembered Kryst for her “kind” spirit in a statement.
“The Miss Universe and Miss USA Organizations are devastated to learn about the loss of Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst,” they wrote in a statement. “She was one of the brightest, warmest, and most kind people we have ever had the privilege of knowing, and she lit up every room she entered. Our entire community mourns her loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
MORE: Former Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst, dead at 30