Earlier this week, MADAMENOIRE reported on the untimely and sudden passing of Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019, an attorney, Extra correspondent and social justice and mental health advocate.
While authorities are still investigating her death, Kryst was last seen on the 29th-floor terrace of the building where she lived in Midtown, Manhattan, before she fell to her death. She was only 30 — and it’s been reported that she most likely died of suicide.
MN also reported that Regina King’s only child, Ian Alexander Jr., succumbed to suicide just over a week before Kryst’s death.
Alexander was a creative soul and DJ who died just days after turning 26.
In our scope over the last few months, MN has reported on Cardi B testifying in court that she became “extremely suicidal” due to malicious things said about her online by YouTuber Tasha K, Porsha Williams saying, “I never have to get to a place where I don’t want to live anymore because I’m living for my daughter,” and Kandi Burruss reflecting on the suicidal ideation and depression she battled in middle school.
Suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and suicides raised 33% in our nation from 1999 to 2019 (with a 2% decline in 2019), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Suicide has a profound impact on the Black community. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reported that “in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Blacks or African Americans, ages 15 to 24.” Additionally, “the death rate from suicide for Black or African American men was four times greater than for African American women, in 2018.”
Suicide rates overall dropped 3% in 2020, but that percentage was primarily impacted by the lowered number of suicides in white populations. For Black and Hispanic women, respectively, suicide rates increased during 2020, although they maintain the lowest rates of suicide among their counterparts.
Despite the drop, the suicides of people of color remain disproportionately underreported and misclassified, according to The New York Times.
While suicide affects those of all backgrounds, the intersection of socio-economical and educational disparities, racism, sexism, gender-based violence and sexual assault, has left Black women and girls vulnerable to suicide’s risk factors.
In an article about the alarming rise in suicides committed by Black girls and young women aged 10-24, clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at DePaul University Dr. LaVome Robinson explained:
“In the Black community, suicide as we typically define it remains rare — but the numbers may be higher than we think because of indirect suicide, where adolescents deliberately put themselves in harm’s way.”
It’s about time we look at suicide in nuanced ways.
If your or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and or suicide ideation, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). To find culturally competent care and more specific hotlines related to how you identify, view the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective’s list of resources here.