Cheslie Kryst's Mother Reflects on Her Daughter's Struggle With Depression and Shares Her Last Words

'Red Table Talk' Cheslie Kryst Episode
Jordan Fisher/Red Table Talk

Cheslie Kryst's mother, April Simpkins, is opening up about her daughter's longtime battle with depression and death on Jan. 30. In the latest episode of Red Table Talk, April and her husband, David, sat down for their first interview after their daughter's death, discussing her final words and the legacy she's left behind.

Cheslie was born in Jackson, Michigan, and graduated with honors from the University of South Carolina. She later graduated with degrees from the Darla Moore School of Business and Wake Forest University School of Law. She won the title of Miss USA in 2019, later becoming a TV correspondent at Extra and an activist who used her platform as the winner to speak out on social justice issues and bring light to causes that she felt passionate about.

"She truly was my best friend," April said, looking back on her relationship with her daughter. "She was the first person I talked to when I woke up -- we would go about our mornings FaceTiming each other. She would be putting on her makeup and I would be getting ready at my desk. To not have that makes mornings awful for me. I don’t know that I will get over the grief, I'm trying to accept that grief and I will do life together."

The mother of six explained that Cheslie "always sought to do better" and would often play spokesperson for her younger siblings. "I think what shocked so many people is that when you see her on TV, you see her on TikTok and Instagram, she's smiling, she's bubbly. And that's Cheslie," she shared. "But Cheslie was also battling depression, which she hid."

April explained that although she had known her daughter was suffering from depression, she didn't understand the severity. She revealed that Cheslie attempted suicide once before in her 20s and, according to April, "began taking all the right steps" to heal afterward but would regularly deflect conversations away from herself. 

April recalled she was leaving her exercise class on the morning of Jan. 30, when she noticed a text message from Cheslie waiting for her. She shared that she didn't read the entire text immediately, revealing that she had hurried home to call her husband and figure out what they had to do. 

But she relayed Cheslie's final words to the women at the table, reading, "First, I am sorry, by the time you get this I won’t be alive anymore. And it makes me even more sad to write this because I know it will hurt you the most. I love you, Mom, and you are my best friend and the person I have lived for, for years. I wish I could stay with you but I cannot bear the crushing weight of persistent sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness any longer. I've never told you these feelings because I've never wanted you to worry and because I hoped they would eventually change but I know they never will. They follow me through every accomplishment, success, family gathering, friendly dinner. I cry almost every day now like I'm in mourning. I've wished for death for years. And I know you would want to know and to help but I haven’t wanted to share this weight with anyone."

She continued, "Regardless of that, thank you sincerely for being there for me in some of my loneliest moments without me even telling you I needed you. You have kept me alive and ready to face another day because you answer every phone call and you are there for me at the drop of a hat. You listen to me and care when I tell you what goes on in my life and you have always made me feel like you love me. I love you more than any person I've ever known. You've done nothing wrong and you've done everything right. I no longer feel like I have any purpose in life. I don’t know if I ever really did."

"I've pushed away most of my friends and I can’t fix any of it no matter how hard I’ve tried. So I will leave and rejoin God in heaven and hope to find peace there," April recited, noting that Cheslie had also left her final wishes for her parents to carry out. "I don’t wanna leave but I genuinely feel like I have to if I want to escape my loneliness that feels like it has no end. I've fought against depression for a long time but it's won this time around. There aren’t enough words in the world to describe my love and appreciation for you. You are the perfect mom and I will love you forever, even in death. Feel free to share this message, people should know that you are the best mom in the world and you were the best mom to me that I could ever have hoped for."

Since April and David didn't live near Cheslie in New York, they had to fly over after calling the police to send paramedics to her apartment. 

"I thought this must be like the first attempt, let’s get on a plane, get up there and meet her at the hospital," April said, noting that they had texted their family to let them know what was happening. "We made it to the airport, we got on the plane which [was just] taxiing when the police confirmed she was no longer with us. And I don’t remember the plane ride, I remember my husband sobbing."

She recalled getting to the hotel and sobbing with her husband, both of them inconsolable. "When I got home, our family was huddled together," she remembered. "I walked through the door and just collapsed in my son’s arms. I couldn’t remember how to breathe. It was so hard." 

April shared that the family -- which includes Cheslie's biological father, Rodney Kryst -- grew tighter after grieving together and is working hard to "protect her legacy."

"I do hope opening up these discussions and talking about where she was and her state of mind hopefully encourages people to be kinder," April said. "Depression is not always marked by someone laying in bed. There are people who are high-functioning, who can get through the day because they wear that face. She wore the face, she had the smile. She laughed a laugh that was infectious. When something made her really smile from the gut her laugh came out... But it did not remove the depression."

"The voice you hear the most is your own and she would talk sometimes about what her voices were telling her," April shared. "And so all of her accolades and accomplishments, I think, builds a false narrative that those things should make her happy but in the end what is she saying in her own mind?"

David, Cheslie's stepfather, joined the table to shut down speculation about his stepdaughter's law career that swirled after her death.

"We didn't want to have an interview that was a soundbite," David said of himself and April. "There's been speculation about what happened and we've had to see things posted that's not true."

"She was an attorney for a while and there was some speculation that we were trying to push her back into law," David continued. "Even up until a few weeks before she passed, I was texting her, saying, 'Here's how many hours I've billed this month,' and [saying] how happy I was for her that she would never have to do that again. I told her, 'You are having more impact in your current role than you would ever going back to law.'"

David recalled revisiting New York after hanging out with Cheslie there last June. "I feel her presence when I am in that city," he noted, sharing that he would return to places she took him to, including a pizza place in Little Italy and her favorite cupcake shop. 

He remembered watching a street performer sing an Adele song that David began listening to due to Cheslie's influence and said it made him feel that "I knew she is with us. I can feel it and I don’t really care what anybody else believes. I was so thankful to have that."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to


Cheslie Kryst's Stepdad Addresses Speculation About Her Law Career

Cheslie Kryst's Mother Speaks Out After Cause of Death Confirmed

Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019, Dead at 30

Related Gallery