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Miss USA Cheslie Kryst's death shines a light on mental health

In the wake of Cheslie Kryst's recent death, local experts offered advice on how to approach people experiencing suicidal ideation.
Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Miss USA Cheslie Kryst attends the world premiere of "Like a Boss" at the SVA Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

PHOENIX — The recent death of former Miss USA and Extra correspondent Cheslie Kryst has been sending shockwaves across the entertainment community and beyond.

From the outside, it didn’t seem like life could get any better for Kryst. She was a successful lawyer who worked pro bono to help low-level drug offenders. 

Kryst was crowned the winner of the 2019 Miss USA pageant and later became a correspondent for Extra, where she got the chance to interview celebrities and pop culture icons.

And yet police believe Kryst took her own life Sunday morning at her home in New York City.

A local expert offered some advice on how to approach someone who may be experiencing suicidal ideation.

Psychotherapist Dean Aslinia, an associate dean with the University of Phoenix's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, said to look out for behaviors in friends and family that could indicate they are struggling with mental health. Some signs to watch out for are:

  • Mood swings
  • Withdraw
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Mentioning or feeling like they are a burden to loved ones

“Things like that are all great signs to begin the conversation of trying to get them potentially the help that they may be screaming for, but without having the awareness to actually ask for it,” Aslinia said.

Starting what could feel like an awkward conversation could open the door to getting a friend or relative help. Aslinia said highlighting the fact that they are not alone and asking if the person plans to hurt themselves or others is an important question to ask. 

“I think those sometimes become a point of relief, that the person begins to see that you're actually detecting some changes in their emotional swings, and you're reaching out; you're not afraid to ask them the tough questions that perhaps everybody else is running away from,” Aslinia said.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are people available right now to speak to you.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 every day by calling 1-800-273-8255.

Also, the University of Phoenix offers free counseling through telehealth services to help those struggling with mental health issues. The Phoenix Campus phone number is 602-557-2217. Their hours vary.

Maricopa County offers a crisis hotline. That number is 602-222-9444. Their website also offers many local resources for mental health help.

RELATED: Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst passes away, family confirms

RELATED: Arizona researchers indentifying genes linked to suicidal ideation

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