- Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst died Sunday aged 30 in an apparent suicide.
- Her death shocked her hundreds of thousands of fans and followers across social media.
- Insider spoke with two experts who said people do not always share how they’re feeling online.
Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst’s death in an apparent suicide Sunday left fans of the television host and social-media personality stunned, but experts say posts to platforms like Instagram and TikTok don’t always provide accurate depictions of someone’s mental health.
Following her death, some left comments on her social-media accounts suggesting “something isn’t adding up.” Others said Kryst “seemed so happy online” prior to her death.
Experts who spoke to Insider said people shouldn’t expect social media profiles to be an accurate portrayal of someone’s mental health.
Kryst had a large following across social media, with over 530,000 followers on Instagram and 470,000 on TikTok. On the former, she shared selfies, pictures of her posing in various outfits, and general updates about her life.
On January 17, just days before her death, she posted a photo standing in front of a mirror with the caption “Those January workouts been workin lol.” The day of her death, she shared a photo of herself with the caption “May this day bring you rest and peace.”
On TikTok, Kryst’s videos featured style tips, behind-the-scenes footage of her day, and commentary on her life as a Black woman. In one video, Kryst spoke about dealing with internet trolls and cyberbullying, and in March 2021, she published an essay for Allure that mentioned her anxiety about aging.
Dr. Rebecca Semel, a New York-based licensed psychologist, told Insider that it’s common for people to portray a “shiny,” positive version of themselves and shy away from sharing “their mental health struggles online.”
“Especially for someone who was in pageants and everything, I feel like there’s a type of person that they want to come across as,” she said.
She added fans who have parasocial relationships — a one-sided relationship — with influencers and celebrities “don’t want to be wrong about who they think” the person is and might try to “preserve the idea of the person that they have in their head.”
On Kryst’s final video posted to TikTok, which was uploaded Friday, multiple users have left comments speculating about the circumstances of her death. One person said “something is not sitting right with me about this,” while another person wrote “I just hope they investigate this.”
The New York City Police Department, which previously confirmed Kryst’s death to Insider, said it is investigating her death, as it does with all suspected deaths by suicide.
Dr. Melissa Shepard, a board-certified psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins’ University School of Medicine, told Insider that a big part of the “initial response” for a person grieving something so tragic is “to be in shock and to want to try and figure out what happened.”
But Shepard, who said she is not personally familiar with Kryst and did not want to speculate on the state of her mental health, said that “we shouldn’t expect that everything is going to be shared online” and that someone “who dies by suicide may not know until right before that that’s what they’re going to do.”
“There’s always this question of whether the person was hiding it, or whether they were being deceptive, and I don’t think that’s ever the case,” she said. Kryst “doesn’t owe us anything, any explanation. She doesn’t owe us that update of her mental health status on social media,” Shepard said.