A Shocking Death May Reflect a Disturbing Trend

Suicides among young Black people, including Cheslie Kryst, are rising
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2022 10:05 AM CDT
Her Death May Reflect a Disturbing Trend
Miss North Carolina Cheslie Kryst wins the 2019 Miss USA competition in the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada.   (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

On January 30, Cheslie Kryst—crowned Miss USA in 2019—committed suicide by jumping to her death from her apartment in Manhattan. She was 30 and already an accomplished lawyer and Emmy-nominated correspondent for the TV show Extra. As the New York Times’ Dodai Stewart reports, Kryst’s death came as a shock, but it was also “emblematic of a troubling uptick in suicide among young Black people.” Kryst had battled depression for years and previously attempted suicide during law school. Her mother called it “high-functioning depression,” which is not a clinical diagnosis, but it underscores the fact that “a person can be experiencing significant distress and significant symptoms of major depression” without anyone realizing it, says one NYU psychiatrist.

Kryst is not the only prominent young Black person whose suicide grabbed headlines this year. Musician and songwriter Ian King Jr., took his own life in January, followed in May by Arlana Miller, a 19-year-old Stanford University cheerleader. Per Forbes, the increased suicide rates among Blacks is documented in recent statistics from the CDC and other agencies: in 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death among Black people ages 15 to 24; in 2020, suicide rates increased in communities of color while falling among whites; and Blacks registered more suicides in 2021 than any other racial or ethnic group. Furthermore, per Scientific American, there is strong evidence that Black suicides are “vastly undercounted” by medical examiners.

In an interview with Essence, psychiatrist and former AMA president Dr. Patrice Harris cites “strong Black woman syndrome” as one possible factor in Kryst’s death, as societal expectations of resilience may discourage women from asking for help. Also per Forbes, the “myth of the strong Black woman” relates to “existing stigma and myths about mental health in the Black community,” where seeking help “is sometimes viewed as a weakness.” Other possible factors include repeated exposure to racism and violent crime, as well as anxieties linked to social media usage. (If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.