Like many other Black women, the suicide of Cheslie Kryst was a real reality check of the pressures that Black women face every day. I think many of us thought Cheslie was the epitome of “having it all,” an accomplished career as a lawyer, a beautiful presence, inside and out, and the ability to stay committed to her community in all that she did. But you can’t really know what a person is dealing with on the inside unless it’s you. Since Kryst’s suicide many have written about how Black women live with high-functioning depression.
Cheslie’s passing was unsettling because I am a young, Black woman.
She was so inspiring and inviting as an anchor on ExtraTV, and we all remember her stunning presence when crowned Miss USA in 2019. I appreciated Cheslie’s commitment to collective work and action. 2019 was the first year that all four major United States-based pageants were won by Black women, with Zozibini Tunzi as Miss Universe, Nia Franklin as Miss America, and Kaliegh Garris as Miss Teen USA. Cheslie addressed this monumental moment and spoke to the significance of there being enough space for all of us, together. We should believe this, too, and I hope we can embody this spirit in our daily lives.
What made her passing even more unexpected was her openness in discussing mental health. She spoke about it candidly in her interviews, even highlighting the microaggressions she faced in both the law and pageant industries. If mental health was important to someone who eventually committed suicide, what do we do next?
The impact of suicide is long-lasting, and I certainly don’t want this to happen to any Black women in my circles or to Black women that I don’t even know. So, how can young Black women begin to prioritize their mental health?
Every scenario is different, but here are a few ideas that may be helpful:
- If it’s a trigger for you, try to limit your exposure to social media.
- Self-care is not an option; it’s a necessity.
- Try to stop all work at a scheduled time each day.
- Establish several networks of care and support.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no,” or “I need help with…”
- Remember you are worthy of love and respect.
Navigating the Change Post-Script:
Though Chelsea is a young, Black woman, who identifies as a Zillennial, it is a fact that mental health issues begin well before women are menopausal and worsen when a woman begins perimenopause. As a result, the information provides here is not only intergenerational, but also mandatory to relay to all women.
Chelsea Dade, MS is the brains behind Communicate For Health Justice, a millennial-driven, Black woman-owned communication platform dedicated to mixing health equity and social justice concepts into health communication editorial content and programs. She’s also a health communication professional based in the DC area. For more information, follow her on Twitter, IG, and LinkedIn.