Shedding light on mental health in Black and brown communities

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — There is immense shock and sorrow over the tragic death of former Miss America, Cheslie Kryst.

The 30-year-old Extra correspondent jumped from a high rise apartment building in Mid-town Manhattan, Sunday morning.

Kryst was also an attorney who did pro bono work to reduce sentences for inmates.

Police said she left behind a note, but it gave no indication as to why she jumped to her death.

Just hours before her death, this photo was posted to Kryst’s Instagram account, with the caption: “May this day bring you rest and peace.”

In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death in Black lack people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Mental health played a big role in that statistic.

Mental health is especially taboo within black and brown communities.

It is common to hear about the “strong Black woman” in these communities, and the expectations.

Buffalo clinical social worker and therapist, Dr. Shatasha Cole said when considering seeking a therapist there needs to be an “evaluation of life”.

Those who feel overwhelmed or are having problems eating or sleeping, having nightmares or thoughts of self-harming, is a true sign that something more is going on than just being sad. This is especially if these symptoms have lasted for months on end.

Buffalo clinical therapist, Dr. Shatasha Cole, “Ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not be okay, and that goes for women and men. Often times, we forget about our Black men. We think that they’re supposed to be strong all the time. Having the world on their shoulders. They need help too. There is trauma and things that have happened and occurred in their lifetime and you may not even know about and they may be scared to speak on something.”

There needs to be improvement within the stage performance industry, Buffalo’s The Young Ladies of Grace owner and artist director, Angela Lukaszonas said.

“I think that we need to have the proper professionals set in place so these girls can have experiences and we can provide them professional help when necessary, in order to handle the extreme amounts of anxiety that comes with stage performances,” Lukaszonas said.

Anyone who is struggling with mental health is encouraged to reach out for help.

The crisis services can be reached at through these numbers:

Erie County: (716) 834-3131

Niagara County: (716) 285-3515