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April Simpkins, the mother of former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, released a heartbreaking statement on Wednesday about her daughter's tragic death.
Kryst, a correspondent for the television show “Extra," died by suicide on Jan. 30. She was 30.
"I have never known a pain as deep as this. I am forever changed," wrote Simpkins. "Today, what our family and friends privately knew was the cause of death of my sweet baby girl, Cheslie, was officially confirmed. While it may be hard to believe, it’s true."
Simpkins went on to say that Kryst, who was crowned Miss USA in 2019, hid her depression from her closest friends and family members, including her mother.
"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," wrote the grieving mom, who herself was a pageant winner, winning the Mrs. North Carolina title in 2002.
"While her life on this earth was short," she continued, "it was filled with many beautiful memories. 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," she added.
Simpkins then addressed her late daughter directly, writing, "Cheslie — to the world, you were 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. 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," she concluded.
Simpkins asked that Kryst's memory be honored with donations to Dress for Success, "an organization that was dear to her heart." The global non-profit organization provides professional attire for low-income women.
Simpkins also asked for continued respect for the privacy of Kryst's family members.
Kryst's family confirmed the news of her death to TODAY in a statement on Jan. 30, writing, in part, "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. Cheslie embodied love and served others, whether through her work as an attorney fighting for social justice, as Miss USA and as a host on ‘Extra.’ But most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague — we know her impact will live on."
Prior to competing in Miss USA, Kryst graduated from Wake Forest University School of Law. She began practicing law at the firm Poyner Spruill LLP, where she served as their first Diversity Advisor, according to the firm’s website.
After earning the title in 2019, Kryst represented the U.S. at the Miss Universe competition, earning a spot in the top 10. Shortly after her win, she became the New York correspondent for “Extra.”
Kryst had spoken about the importance of mental health care in the past. She shared tips on how she cared for her own mental health on World Mental Health Day in 2019 on the Miss USA Facebook page.
“I do a lot to make sure that I maintain my mental health and the most important thing I did was talk to a counselor,” she wrote at the time. “She’s really easy to talk to, she gives me great strategies especially if I’m sad or happy or have a busy month ahead of me so I definitely recommend that.”
“When I’m not talking to my counselor, I take time at the end of every single day to just decompress. I unplug, I shut my phone off, I don’t answer messages. I just sit and watch my favorite movie.”