Memories From a Friend: Janice L. McDonald, Producer, ABC News

by Elysian Magazine

Content Warning – The contents of this article discuss depression, anxiety, and suicide.

“I spent a great deal of time with Cheslie when she was Miss North Carolina. She was someone who was really good at making you feel that you were special. She was the one with the crown and the banner, but she talked with you, she made you feel like the one who was special. I saw it time and time again. She always had time for some little girl, or for people who wanted to come up and meet her at a party. She always would say, “Yes, absolutely.”

“The thing is, everybody focused on Cheslie being Miss USA. She also was an attorney, incredibly bright, an athlete who held records for track and field, and came from an athletic and competitive family. We’ve all been talking about it. If anybody knew how to get help, it would have been Cheslie. I don’t know if she even knew it about herself. I’ve had coworkers commit suicide. I knew people who I never thought would take their life. These past few days, I’ve wrestled with Cheslie’s suicide and why it struck a chord with so many people, people who didn’t know her at all. Sometimes it’s people that have it all who are the ones who are hiding something dark. I’ve had people reach out to me and tell me their troubles, and tears shoot out of my eyes. It makes you look inside yourself and wonder if you’re as OK as you thought you were.

“For you to talk about your problems is to admit that something is wrong with you, so a lot of people just avoid it, because then they don’t have to deal with it. I don’t know what Cheslie’s tipping point was, but whatever it was, she just couldn’t deal with it any longer. If you or someone you know has reached the tipping point, don’t avoid it. You have to deal with what’s going on in your life. Especially right now, where the world is pandemic-isolated, and everyone’s life has been altered. There’s a new reality, and I think most people haven’t coped with it. Don’t engage in mindless escapism. Don’t go to a place that deals with nothing but darkness.”

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