Miss USA Cheslie Kryst battled 'high-functioning depression,' says mom


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A former beauty queen who leaped from a Manhattan apartment building to her death battled high-functioning depression, her mom has revealed.

April Simpkins said she is 'forever changed' the death of her daughter Cheslie Kryst, a former Miss USA whose bubbly and vivacious personality masked inner struggles.

'Cheslie led both a public and a private life,' Simpkins shared on Instagram. '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.'

Kryst, 30, was discovered on a sidewalk next to her luxury apartment building The Orion in Hell's Kitchen on Sunday morning. Although she lived alone in the complex's ninth floor, she was last seen in a common area on an open terrace on the 29th level.

'While her life on this earth was short, it was filled with many beautiful memories,' her mom said. '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.'

April Simpkins says her daughter, former Miss America Chelsie Kryst, suffered from high-functioning depression but hid her mental health struggles from loved ones 

Simpkins said of her daughter: 'While her life on this earth was short, it was filled with many beautiful memories'

Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst told of her fear that she was 'running out of time to matter' in a haunting essay last March, 10 months before leaping to her death from her Manhattan apartment building

Simpkins described her daughter as 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,' she said. '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.'

The proud mom - who was won a tiara as Mrs. North Carolina in 2002 - has for years been relishing her daughter's accomplishments. She traveled to Israel last December to watch the 2021 Miss Universe with Kryst, who worked as an Extra correspondent.

Kryst was crowned Miss USA in 2019 and was among the 10 contestants in the ensuing Miss Universe that year. 

In a haunting essay last March, just 10 months before leaping to her death, Kryst talked about the fear that she was 'running out of time to matter.'

She wrote about being trolled online and how winning Miss USA at the age of 28 made her a target for ageist bullies, but many of her friends said on Monday they were stunned by her death and were unaware that she might have been suffering mental health issues.   

Simpkins said Kryst hid her depression from everyone - including her mom until recently

Kryst posted her final picture on Instagram on Sunday morning writing: 'May this day bring you rest and peace'

Publicly, she never shared any particular struggles with mental health. 

In 2019, she said that she often spoke with a counselor to keep her mind healthy, but there was no indication that she was in any form of distress.

Her father, 62-year-old Rodney Kryst, said earlier this week that he believed she was depressed due to 'family disfunction.' 

'She was sad,' he told the New York Post.

He also said she was 'pure' and didn't suffer from substance abuse problems.  

Before her death, she shared one last photo of herself on Instagram captioned: 'May this day bring you rest and peace.' 

Kryst was the oldest person to have won Miss USA and she also strayed from the norm with her passion for social justice; she was a trained lawyer and Black Lives Matter advocate.  

In recent TikTok videos, she revealed that she no longer wanted to practice law because she had become sick of what she called constant micro-aggressions and a lack of diversity. 

Cheslie Kryst and her father Rodney Kryst in an undated photo during her reign as Miss USA. Her family is still reeling after she jumped to her death from a Manhattan high rise on Sunday

Cheslie Kryst's father spoke out this week, saying that he believed she may have been depressed due to 'family dysfunction' and that she did not have a substance abuse problem 

In a video posted last week, she explained to a fan that she struggled to meet billable hours requirements, and that it felt like 'trading in hours of my life in order to get paid.' 

Kryst was one of six siblings. She recently traveled to South Carolina to spend the holidays with her mother, a former beauty queen, and brothers and sisters.  

Her grandfather in South Carolina told The New York Daily News he was stunned by her death. 

'To be extinguished so fast is just devastating,' Gary Fimpkins said. 'She was such a fantastic person. She was kind. She was generous. She felt for other people. 

'She tried to help other people. She was just one of those rare people that had a heart for people.'

Publicly, Kryst did not share her struggles with mental health. She's pictured being crowned Miss America in Reno, Nevada on May 2, 2019

Kryst is pictured with her mom Simpkins, who called her a 'ball of sunshine wrapped in smiles.' The former beauty queen previously documented her struggles coming to terms with aging

Writing ahead of her 30th birthday for Allure magazine, she said hauntingly: 'Each time I say 'I'm turning 30,' I cringe a little. Sometimes I can successfully mask this uncomfortable response with excitement; other times, my enthusiasm feels hollow, like bad acting...turning 30 feels like a cold reminder that I'm running out of time to matter in society's eyes - and it's infuriating.' 

She told how after she won the pageant in 2019, some petitioned for the age limit to be lowered because they thought she was too old and how she was trolled on social media for her athletic body, having to delete 'vomit emojis' beneath some of her photos on Instagram.

'My challenge of the status quo certainly caught the attention of the trolls, and I can't tell you how many times I have deleted comments on my social media pages that had vomit emojis and insults telling me I wasn't pretty enough to be Miss USA or that my muscular build was actually a 'man body.'' 

Police hold up a blue tarp to shield Kryst's body after she jumped from the 29th floor

She talked about ringing in her 29th birthday alone in her apartment, wearing her Miss USA crown and 'screening' birthday calls. 

'After a year like 2020, you would think we'd learned that growing old is a treasure and maturity is a gift not everyone gets to enjoy.

'Far too many of us allow ourselves to be measured by a standard that some sternly refuse to challenge and others simply acquiesce to because fitting in and going with the flow is easier than rowing against the current. I fought this fight before and it's the battle I'm currently fighting with 30.

'How do I shake society's unwavering norms when I'm facing the relentless tick of time? It's the age-old question: 'What happens when 'immovable' meets 'unstoppable'?' she wrote.

Police sources tell DailyMail.com she left a suicide note on her computer.

Those struggling with thoughts of suicide can call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.