Charlotte native and former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst has died at the age of 30, according to a statement from her family.
“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,” her family said in the statement.
Officials said Kryst’s cause of death was suicide.
Mental health is an epidemic that affects one in four people around the world.
“Cheslie Kryst was a role model for so many here and around the country. Our prayers are with her family. Check in with your loved ones. If you feel overwhelmed, seek out help,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper posted on Twitter Monday.
>> Channel 9 is committed to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health, and offering real solutions. Here is a list of resources for anyone who may be struggling. You can find the county-by-county guide here.
Channel 9′s Susanna Black spoke with mental health advocate Fonda Bryant about the signs to look out for to help anyone who may be struggling behind closed doors. She is a fierce advocate for suicide prevention and is a suicide survivor herself. That’s why she says she feels she can put herself in Kryst’s shoes.
“She was beautiful. She was smart. She was an attorney. She was well-spoken. She had everything going for herself, but inside she was struggling and that’s the problem,” Bryant said.
Bryant and family therapist Yasmine Jeffers said mental health struggles can affect anyone, and many people are very good at hiding them.
“Due in part because we don’t often talk about our struggles, when you see someone and ask about their day, everyone says, ‘Oh, good. It’s fine.’ We don’t take the time to say I’m having a hard time. I’m struggling,’” Jeffers said.
That’s why Jeffers said knowing the warning signs of someone contemplating suicide is critical. They can be wide-ranging, such as eating too much or not eating enough, acting more anxious than usual, behaving recklessly or even giving away possessions.
“If you notice they’re trying to tie up a lot of loose ends, and you know that they’re struggling with their mental health,” Jeffers said.
In Bryant’s case, she called her aunt to tell her she could have her shoes.
“When I hung up with my Aunt Spanky, she called me back and said, ‘Are you going to kill yourself?,’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ I just told her,” Bryant said.
She said her aunt simply caring to ask meant the world to her, and the response we give to loved ones in the same position is just as important.
“The biggest deterrent to suicide is caring,” Bryant said. “We do not need to hear, ‘If you kill yourself, do you realize the people you’re going to hurt, who you’re going to leave behind?’ Because all that’s going to do is make us shut down. Let us know you care. Let us know other people care. Let us know we can get through this.”
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free and confidential -- 1-800-273-8255.
(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte’s Hidden Crisis: Hope in Trying Times PART I)
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