Cheslie Kryst's mother, April Simpkins is reflecting on her daughter's life and legacy in the latest episode of Red Table Talk. The Extra correspondent and Miss USA 2019 died by suicide on Jan. 30 following a battle with depression.
"I knew Cheslie was suffering from depression; I didn't know the severity of it," Simpkins told hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris.
Simpkins also revealed that Kryst had previously tried to take her own life.
"This was not her first suicide attempt. She attempted suicide before," she shared, adding that the experience had brought them closer and prompted Kryst to seek out resources to help her stay on top of her mental health.
"She and I grew very close and I wanted her to feel comfortable calling me," Simpkins said. "[I told her] 'If ever you're in crisis, call me,' and she began taking all the right steps. She began seeing a counselor; she was getting good sleep at night. She knew all the things to do."
Shortly after the news of her death broke, her mother confirmed that Kryst had died by suicide in an Instagram post, acknowledging that her daughter's shining public persona hid her private battle with depression.
"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 said in the post.
Simpkins told the hosts of Red Table Talk that this ability to "deflect" is what made Kryst so relatable to her thousands of followers and fans.
"For so many that's why they feel like they were best friends with Cheslie, because she was so intent on talking about them — not her," said the grieving mother.
During the interview, Simpkins also shared portions of the text Kryst sent her the day she died.
"I'm 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," the text from Kryst read. Reflecting on the day of her daughter's death, Simpkins noted that "at that point I near blacked out because by the time I read the text an hour had passed."
Kryst's text also detailed the overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and loneliness that haunted her leading up to her death.
"I love you, Mom, and you are my best friend and the person I have lived for, for years," the former beauty queen continued. "I wish I could stay with you but I cannot bear the crushing weight of persistent sadness, hopelessness and loneliness any longer. I never told you these feelings because I didn't want 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."
At the end of the interview, Simpkins was joined by her husband and Kryst's "bonus dad," David Simpkins. The couple shared what has been most helpful to hear throughout their grieving process.
"I told my assistant to please reach out to my co-workers and when I show up, I need a little bit of an oasis from my grief and to please just tell them to say, 'We're glad you're here.' It's hard to have almost a line of people who are paying condolences and telling me about Cheslie," she shared.
"There are some people who would just text 'there are no words, I'm here,' and that's all I needed," added Kryst's stepfather.
Simpkins also said that she hopes to put to rest rumors and speculative theories about how her daughter died.
"One thing that I would like to see laid to rest is this theory that Cheslie was murdered, and this call for people to get the police involved," she said. "I know that my daughter died by suicide and its painful to hear people constantly contradicting what we absolutely know. I hope that those who want to continue to muddy her passing with something that is just false, will stop and let our family heal."
If you or someone you know is 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.
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