April Simpkins is opening up about the moment she learned Stephen “tWitch” Boss had committed suicide and how it compared (and differed) to the moment she learned her daughter, Cheslie Kryst, committed suicide back in January. “His passing … put me on the outside looking in,” Simpkins said.
Kryst, who was crowned Miss USA in 2019, jumped off her high-rise apartment building to her death. In the months following the suicide, her mother (Simpkins) detailed the beauty pageant star’s long battle with high-functioning depression. Ever since then, she has dedicated herself to suicide prevention.
On December 13th, authorities responded to a shooting at a motel and later found tWitch dead in a room – they labeled the death a suicide. Much like everyone else, Simpkins learned of his death after seeing a ‘news flash on my computer,’ and it immediately brought back memories of her daughter’s suicide.
“That’s how I learned of his passing — and I imagine for some, that’s how they learned of Cheslie’s passing — and (I) immediately went into disbelief and wanting to understand what had happened, and then it just triggered those same feelings for me, and my heart ached for him,” Simpkins told TODAY.
She said one of the toughest things she had to overcome – other than the loss of her daughter – was all the people who didn’t ‘know her personally’ that ‘wanted to speak on (her).’ “It’s easy to make this assumption that they were this person 24/7 when they were not,” the 54-year-old mother explained.
While it took some time, she eventually realized that her responsibility didn’t lie with convincing others ‘who [her daughter] was,’ but rather ‘to hold tight to who I know she was.’ April Simpkins wanted tWitch’s mother to know she empathizes with her and understands how difficult it is to mourn the death of a child.
April Simpkins Offers Advice to Anyone Who Has Lost Someone
April Simpkins understands there’s nothing easy about getting over the death of your child, which is why she wants to offer some useful words of advice for those in a similar situation. Her first tip – stop starting sentences with the words ‘I wish,’ If only I had,’ or ‘Why didn’t I do that?’ – they only create damage.
“Instead, I forced myself to start sentences with phrases like, ‘I feel grateful that,’ or, ‘I’m thankful for.’ … It helps to calm some of the sting of that grief in that moment,” she said, adding that she also believes in letting herself be ‘flooded with memories’ of her daughter – and sharing those memories with others.
Simpkins wants people to understand the importance noticing of warning signs and triggers in those with mental health issues. “I knew these cues that when she brought something up in a certain way, we needed to talk through that. … She needed support, not a fixer,” she said.
“When someone says to us, ‘I’m having a rough time dealing with blank,’ and we’ve come back with words like, “You’ll be OK. Sleep it off. You’ve got this. You’re so strong. You can handle it. You need a vacation,’ those are ways that we’re dismissing someone saying I’m not OK,” the grieving mother continued.
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