City official urges residents to be kinder online and reach out to loved ones in trouble

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming or killing yourself, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. State resources are accessible to HELP4WV website or by calling 1-844-HELP4WV (844-435-7498). This article on suicide prevention may also be useful to you.

BUCKHANNON – Appearing to “have it all”, just that – an outward appearance and not the inner reality, as a city official knows all too well.

Buckhannon Town Recorder Randy Sanders is the state director of the Miss West Virginia and Miss West Virginia Teen USA pageants and has spent more than four decades volunteering and then working in the pageant industry. He got to know many outstanding title holders in the pageantry world, so when he learned that Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019, had taken her own life early Sunday morning, he was devastated, he said. at city council this week.

At the start of the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3, Sanders asked to deliver prepared remarks that incorporated a moment of silence in honor of Kryst, the longest-serving Miss USA titleholder due to the pandemic. of ongoing COVID-19. He urged residents to be kinder in person online and to reach out to friends and loved ones who may be struggling.

Sanders said he started volunteering in the pageantry world in 1975 and that job turned into a professional career in 1987.

“In those 45 years, I’ve met thousands of amazing people who seem to have it all, but never do,” Sanders said. Sanders, owner of Pageant Associates, said he was beside himself when he learned of the death of Kryst, 30. He described her as “a beautiful soul who was not only a successful titleholder, but also a lawyer and a popular television correspondent. [newsmagazine] Additional.”

“To be specific, on January 30, 2022, Cheslie jumped to her death … from a 60-story building in midtown Manhattan where she resided and was last seen on the 29th floor,” Sanders said.

The next day, January 31, 2022, the New York Medical Examiner ruled Kryst’s death a suicide, and later that week Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, told the media that Kryst was suffering from a high-level depression that she hid from many people around her, Sanders said.

As a North Carolina civil attorney who earned her law degree and MBA from Wake Forest University, Kryst not only had a popular television career, but also took on free legal work for prisoners who may have been wrongfully sentenced. At 28, she became the oldest holder of the Miss USA title.

“So you can see that even those who achieve great success can face great challenges,” Sanders said. “And when she won, there was an immediate onslaught of ‘you’re too thin, you’re too tall, you’re too short, your hair’s too curly’, and it’s just unacceptable for us to go on. as a society to be so cruel. There is always a question of ‘Are pageants justified in existing in society today?’

Pageant contestants have long been the subject of scrutiny and criticism from themselves and others, but with the explosion of social media, comments are not just mere criticism, but downright cruelty,” Sanders said.

“You have to expect criticism, but harassing and putting someone down really crosses the line,” he said.

Sanders said he believes pageantry and similar competitions will exist “and should exist for as long as people want to participate in them.”

“That’s what makes this country, our society and our hometowns nice and enjoyable,” he said. “So allow people to do what they want to do and allow people to be who they want to be.”

Sanders advised residents to pay attention to what friends, family members and acquaintances are saying with and without words and to reach out if they notice someone seems distraught.

“Look around your neighbors, look around your friends and always pay attention to the statements they make and the conversations you join them in and don’t miss the little things,” he said. “It’s something that doesn’t just happen in big cities, but has happened here in Buckhannon, Upshur County. It can happen with someone we know and love.

After sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number, 1-800-273-8255, Sanders asked the board to join him in a moment of silence in remembrance of Kryst and her family.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming or killing yourself, crisis intervention resources can be found:

  • By calling or texting 1-844-HELP4WV (844-435-7304), which offers a 24/7 call, text, and chat line that provides immediate assistance to all Virginia- Westerner struggling with mental/behavioural health or addiction.
  • By texting or calling the West Virginia Emotional Force Line at 1-877-435-7304 or chatting with them on their website, www.help304.com.

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