[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Cheslie Kryst‘s family is speaking out about the pageant queen’s death.
As you may recall, the world was shocked by the sudden passing of the former Miss USA, who died by suicide back in January after jumping from a condominium building in New York City. And for the first time since Cheslie’s tragic death, her mother has opened up in detail about the final moments. During an appearance on Red Table Talk, April Simpkins first spoke with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smithand Adrienne Banfield-Norris on how she has been handling everything since that tragic day, expressing:
“She truly was my best friend. She was the first person I talked to when I woke up — we would go about our mornings FaceTiming each other. She would be putting on her makeup, and I would be getting ready at my desk. To not have that makes mornings awful for me. I don’t know that I will get over the grief, I’m trying to accept that grief, and I will do life together.”
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The mom that Cheslie “always sought to do better” and often acted as a spokesperson for her younger siblings. However, April shared that the model struggled with her mental health for a long time – and hid it from everyone:
“I think what shocked so many people is that when you see her on TV, you see her on TikTok and Instagram, she’s smiling, she’s bubbly. And that’s Cheslie. But Cheslie was also battling depression, which she hid.”
Although April knew the Extra correspondent suffered from depression, she noted that she never understood the severity of it. She revealed that Cheslie attempted suicide in her 20s and “began taking all the right steps” to improve her mental health, including seeing a counselor. But on the morning of January 30, things took a turn for the worse. April recalled noticing that she had received a text message from Cheslie an hour before an exercise class that leaving day. Instead of reading the entire text immediately, she ended up rushing home to call her husband to figure out what they needed to do.
April then read out the final words from Cheslie, saying:
“First, I am sorry, by the time you get this I won’t be alive anymore. And it makes me even more sad to write this because I know it will hurt you the most. I love you, Mom, and you are my best friend and the person I have lived for, for years. I wish I could stay with you but I cannot bear the crushing weight of persistent sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness any longer. I’ve never told you these feelings because I’ve never wanted you to worry and because I hoped they would eventually change but I know they never will. They follow me through every accomplishment, success, family gathering, friendly dinner. I cry almost every day now like I’m in mourning. I’ve wished for death for years. And I know you would want to know and to help but I haven’t wanted to share this weight with anyone.”
“Regardless of that, thank you sincerely for being there for me in some of my loneliest moments without me even telling you I needed you. You have kept me alive and ready to face another day because you answer every phone call and you are there for me at the drop of a hat. You listen to me and care when I tell you what goes on in my life and you have always made me feel like you love me. I love you more than any person I’ve ever known. You’ve done nothing wrong and you’ve done everything right. I no longer feel like I have any purpose in life. I don’t know if I ever really did. I’ve pushed away most of my friends and I can’t fix any of it no matter how hard I’ve tried. So I will leave and rejoin God in heaven and hope to find peace there.
Revealing that Cheslie also shared her final wishes to be carried out by her parents, the mom concluded:
“I don’t wanna leave but I genuinely feel like I have to if I want to escape my loneliness that feels like it has no end. I’ve fought against depression for a long time but it’s won this time around. There aren’t enough words in the world to describe my love and appreciation for you. You are the perfect mom and I will love you forever, even in death. Feel free to share this message, people should know that you are the best mom in the world and you were the best mom to me that I could ever have hoped for.”
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On the day of her death, April and her husband, David Simpkins, tried to fly over to New York after calling the police to send paramedics to her apartment. However, police later confirmed that Cheslie had died:
“I thought this must be like the first attempt, let’s get on a plane, get up there and meet her at the hospital. We made it to the airport, we got on the plane which [was just] taxiing when the police confirmed she was no longer with us. And I don’t remember the plane ride, I remember my husband sobbing.”
When they returned home from the airport, April recalled how she and David broke down with their family:
“When I got home, our family was huddled together. I walked through the door and just collapsed in my son’s arms. I couldn’t remember how to breathe. It was so hard.”
We cannot imagine how hard this must have been for them. Truly such a tragedy what happened here…
Since her death, April said the family has grown closer and is working together to “protect her legacy.” Specifically, they want to continue having open and honest conversations about mental health in the hopes that their story can help someone else:
“I do hope opening up these discussions and talking about where she was and her state of mind hopefully encourages people to be kinder. Depression is not always marked by someone laying in bed. There are people who are high-functioning, who can get through the day because they wear that face. She wore the face, she had the smile. She laughed a laugh that was infectious. When something made her really smile from the gut her laugh came out… But it did not remove the depression.”
“The voice you hear the most is your own and she would talk sometimes about what her voices were telling her. And so all of her accolades and accomplishments, I think, builds a false narrative that those things should make her happy but at the end what is she saying in her own mind?”
Later in the episode, her stepfather David joined the women at the table. He addressed the rumors that have been circulating around since her death, including the claims that he and April were pressuring Cheslie to get back into law:
“We didn’t want to have an interview that was a soundbite. There’s been speculation about what happened, and we’ve had to see things posted that’s not true. She was an attorney for a while and there was some speculation that we were trying to push her back into law. Even up until a few weeks before she passed, I was texting her, saying, ‘Here’s how many hours I’ve billed this month,’ and [saying] how happy I was for her that she would never have to do that again. I told her, ‘You are having more impact in your current role than you would ever going back to law.’”
David also said that he often feels her “presence” whenever he is in New York – including one touching moment in which he remembers a street performer singing an Adele song that Cheslie had recommended to him. He remembered:
“I knew she is with us. I can feel it, and I don’t really care what anybody else believes. I was so thankful to have that.”
We have so much appreciate for April and David willingness to speak out on their devastating and painful experience. Our heart also continues to go out to them as they continue to mourn Cheslie’s loss. You can take a look at their entire vulnerable discussion on Red Table Table (below):
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
[Image via Red Table Talk/Facebook, Cheslie Kryst/Instagram]