Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. George James, featured on 6abc: Cheslie Kryst’s Death Sparks Conversation About Mental Health: ‘Check on Your Strong Friend’

February 1, 2022 | PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — On Monday, people were remembering a former Miss USA and spotlighting the importance of mental health.

Cheslie Kryst, the 2019 winner of the Miss USA pageant and a correspondent for the entertainment news program “Extra,” died at age 30 on Sunday morning.

Police said Kryst jumped from a Manhattan apartment building and was pronounced dead at the scene. Her family confirmed her death in a statement.

“In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength,” her family said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

“What we actually see is that people are functioning with their depression: going to work, they’re still taking care of their children, their family. They’re doing those things, but internally they are struggling,” said Dr. George James, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist and assistant professor at Jefferson University.

James says that’s why it’s so important for those who are suffering to get help, talk to someone and for others to check in on the people around them.

“Check on your strong friend. Check on the people that you think are OK, good or even great because everyone is dealing with it in a significant way,” James said.

Kryst, a former Division I athlete and North Carolina attorney, won the Miss USA pageant in May 2019, and competed in the Miss Universe pageant that year.

When Kryst was crowned, it marked more than a personal triumph: It meant that for the first time, three Black women were the reigning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America.

In a statement Sunday, the nationally syndicated program “Extra” described Kryst as “not just a vital part of our show, she was a beloved part of our ‘Extra’ family and touched the entire staff. Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends.”

Kryst provided commentary at last month’s Miss Universe pageant, which called her “one of the brightest, warmest, and most kind people we have ever had the privilege of knowing. Our entire community mourns her loss.”

The University of South Carolina praised the former student-athlete, calling her “a woman of many talents.” Kryst also held an MBA from Wake Forest University.

According to police, Kryst’s body was found at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday in front of the Orion building, a high-rise on West 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read and watch the full interview on 6abc