Gayle King on Cheslie Kryst's Death: ‘I Refused to Believe It’
Gayle King is mourning the loss of “Extra” correspondent Cheslie Kryst, as are we all.
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The two met after Cheslie was crowned Miss USA in the spring of 2019. King was so impressed with Kryst that she “asked for her phone number” so they could “stay in touch.”
In a piece for OprahDaily.com, King shared, “Even after the Covid-19 pandemic shut down just about every premiere and red carpet, we continued to spend time together — first over Zoom, and then for lunch in December. We’d talk about her job, dating, and everything else going on in her life. I wanted to help her however I could, whether that was answering any questions she might have or giving her advice on a whole range of topics.”
Authorities believe the former Miss USA took her own life, jumping from her New York City apartment building Sunday morning. Her final Instagram post was a beautiful picture with the haunting message, "May this day bring you rest and peace."
Gayle opened up on her initial reaction after hearing about Cheslie’s shocking death, saying, “When I got a text message yesterday about her passing, I honestly thought I had read it wrong. I even Googled it because I thought there must have been some mistake.”
“When I saw that it was indeed her, I thought, ‘Somebody needs to check the security cameras in her building, because there is no way she jumped to her death.’ I simply refused to believe it,” King added. “Perhaps she had been pushed? Maybe there was some other foul play? Now, of course, we know that is indeed what happened.”
Gayle noted that she never saw any signs of trouble from Cheslie. She shared, “That’s part of the reason I’m so gutted by the news — and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
King reached out to Kryst’s mom, who told her, “Cheslie wasn’t just my daughter; she was my best friend.” Cheslie had said the same thing about her mom to Gayle during one of the recent conversations.
Gayle admitted that she was struggling to come to terms with Cheslie’s “unexplainable” death. She wrote, “I woke up at 1:09 this morning — yes, exactly 1:09 — and I could not fall back asleep, because I was so haunted by the endless list of unanswered questions: What was she thinking in those final moments? Did she plan it out? Did something so drastic and traumatic happen over the weekend that could have caused this? There are so many unanswered questions that it scares me. I cared a lot about this girl — and I thought I really knew her, so that’s what I’m struggling with.”
King expressed her concern for others who are struggling secretly without showing any signs. She pointed out, “How many other people are feeling that way? How many other people that you know may be putting on a face? That’s equally scary to me. And it makes me think, ‘How do you know to offer help if you don’t know the person needs help?’”
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, 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 suicidepreventionlifeline.org.