New York, NY – On January 30, many were struck by the tragic suicide of 30 year-old television correspondent and 2019 Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst. 

Ben Kimmel.

Kryst’s family released a statement saying, “In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed, and she shined.” 

Sadly, suicide and other mental health-related deaths are on the rise. High-profile tragedies involving celebrities like Kryst, however, can possibly help others in crisis. Perhaps, the devastating death of a Miss USA winner will help more people realize that regardless of fame or fortune — depression and mental health challenges do not discriminate. Even if our society discriminates and succumbs to stigma — emotional challenges do not.

The impact of poor mental health during the pandemic is clear. Research points to growing concerns over the rise of depression, suicide, substance abuse and anxiety disorders. Then again, reports showed growing concerns about these problems before Covid hit. 

Despite increasing personal struggles, professional support remains limited in the face of high demand. Clinicians are overworked and patients must often wait for a cancellation just to book an appointment. It is important to note these problems exist across all financial backgrounds, as well as all faiths, ethnicities and beliefs.

Whether the deadly outcomes are openly deliberate or silent, the number of mental health-related deaths are climbing to an all-time high. Isn’t it time we paid more attention to this?

Research finds suicide and substance or alcohol abuse disorders are only part of the problem. The World Health Organization [WHO] says, The lifespan of people with severe mental disorders is shorter compared to the general population. Cardiovascular disease, which includes coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and stroke, is one of the leading causes of death among people with severe mental disorders.”

This means there is more to acknowledge than overdoses and suicides. That’s why promoting mental health first aid education  is so important. 

Akron, Ohio-based Families Against Fentanyl reports that in just two years, fentanyl poisoning deaths have doubled and fentanyl poisoning amongst teens is rising even faster.  Other statistics show suicide amongst teenage girls is up more than 50-percent.

Startling numbers like these will not spark a systematic reaction, however. The Omicron variant largely thrust our city back to remote work status. But mental health-related deaths have killed more people than Omicron. Serious mental health issues just do not receive the same coverage as Covid. Unfortunately, the focus remains on mask mandates and vaccination status. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, please know there is help. Call  1-888-NYC-WELL, There is no reason for anyone to go through this alone.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Wellbeing and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join Our Newsletter Today