Former Miss USA's suicide puts spotlight on mental health – High Point Enterprise

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Cloudy with rain developing after midnight. Low 43F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 90%..
Cloudy with rain developing after midnight. Low 43F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 90%.
Updated: February 2, 2022 @ 9:30 pm

HIGH POINT
If the tragic suicide of Cheslie Kryst has taught us anything, it’s that the happy, confident person we see on the outside may look drastically different beneath the surface.
“People say she had no reason to be sad — well, you don’t know that,” said Regina Patterson, a licensed clinical social worker and the clinical director of Mental Health Associates of the Triad. “Money and fame do not always equal happiness. No one knows about the pain someone may be living with underneath that smile they have.”
Kryst, a 30-year-old former Miss USA and a correspondent for the entertainment news program “Extra,” jumped to her death Sunday morning from her high-rise apartment building in Manhattan, according to police.
Kryst’s death triggered waves of shock and sadness, as a nation that still doesn’t fully understand mental illness tried to grasp how a young woman who seemingly had so much going for her could commit suicide.
“Unfortunately, with her story, we’ll probably never know the depth of her sadness that made her reach the point of taking her own life,” Patterson said, “but she was obviously unhappy about a lot of things.”
Such scenarios are not uncommon, according to Patterson.
“Some people put on a very good facade, but inside they’re really hurting,” she said. “And it happens because they don’t have the support system they need or they think people won’t understand what they’re going through. Sometimes they’re afraid to share their true feelings.”
For that reason, Patterson continued, if you know or suspect a friend or loved one may be struggling with depression, it’s important to make yourself available to them and to be sensitive to their feelings.
“First of all, you cannot be judgmental — create a safe space for them to acknowledge they’re feeling depressed,” she said.
“Second, check in with your people: ‘How are you doing?’ And if you notice that their conversation is off, don’t be afraid to ask them if they’ve been thinking about committing suicide. It’s not going to put any thoughts in their head that weren’t already there, and it lets them know you understand how they’re feeling. Still, though, do not try to embarrass them or judge them — their feelings are very real to them.”
Asking so bluntly about suicidal thoughts may seem awkward, Patterson acknowledged, but it could be critical.
“When you’re talking about suicide, you can’t beat around the bush,” she said. “That’s a final statement. There are no do-overs after someone commits suicide.”
If an individual says he or she has been thinking about suicide, it’s important to get that person connected to a therapist, Patterson said.
“If nothing else, call the hospital emergency room for a list of therapists, or call the Guilford County Behavioral Health Urgent Care,” she said. “It’s so important to get them connected with a mental health provider. And, again, make sure they feel safe, and do it without judgment.”
Mental Health Associates also provides outpatient therapy services, and the agency can refer psychiatric services for medication.
[email protected] | 336-888-3579
If you are having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Additional resources can be found online at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.
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