Following the unexpected suicide of reality television personality Gia Allemand, friends and fans have spoken out to honor the life of a young woman they say was full of love and compassion.
The "Bachelor" contestant and model died Wednesday after she tried to hang herself in her New Orleans home, according to a statement obtained by HLN from her representative. Allemand was found Monday night, rushed to the hospital, and put on life support, but her family chose to let her pass after it was revealed she had suffered a critical loss of brain and organ function.
Aside from her appearance on Season 14 of "The Bachelor," the 29-year-old actress was also a contestant on Seasons 1 and 2 of "Bachelor Pad," a reality competition show based on the "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" franchises. Allemand was also a lifelong model who posed for Maxim magazine and various other publications, and was a noted animal lover and Christian. Her final tweet before her death is particularly sad in retrospect:
Allemand regularly used her presence on social media to condemn online bullying, show love for the "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" franchises, and share her passion for animals.
HLN spoke to Marissa May, a former contestant on "The Bachelor" who was friends with Allemand. May is now a publicist in Atlanta.
"She was such a happy and positive person," May told HLN. "Which makes all of this even harder to believe. During the Christmas holiday, her and [her boyfriend] and a few other friends and I all went to Disney together and spent a day and night there, being complete kids and carefree. Her free spirit and smile and laughter just spreads to you."
May also said Allemand's faith was a big part of who she was. "She was a very spiritual person -- having God in her life was something she did on a daily basis...She never let that fade to the back of who she was. It was very much at the center of who she was. If you knew her, you knew that about her."
"The Gia that you see in pictures -- that smile she has, the light in her eyes -- that’s who she was. Every time you saw her and spoke to her, she was such a positive and uplifting person to be around. She was spiritual, she was always there for everyone. What you see and who you would think she would be, that’s exactly who she was."
Other fellow contestants on the "Bachelor" and "Bachelor Pad" shows expressed their shock at Allemand's passing and mourned the loss of a young woman who seemed to have everything. In a statement to CNN, "Bachelor" franchise creator and executive producer Mike Fleiss called Allemand "truly a sweet and generous soul."
"Gia was a beautiful girl and an unbelievable friend," Vienna Girardi, winner of "Bachelor" Season 14, told TMZ. "I’m shocked and can’t believe what happened to her. She seemed so happy, but you never know the demons people are fighting inside."
Allemand's representative and her boyfriend, NBA player Ryan Anderson, both spoke out following her death.
"Loved ones and fans will remember Gia Allemand as a caring woman who loved her family and was well-known for her compassion towards animals and mission to rescue homeless pets," her representative stated.
"Gia was the most beautiful person I knew inside and out and she always smiled and made everyone else around her smile. She had such an amazing impact on my life and anyone that knew her was blessed," Anderson said in a statement.
It is not clear why Allemand felt compelled to take her life, and various reports on possible motives have not been confirmed or endorsed by her family or friends, who have asked for privacy as they mourn their loss.
According to her representative, Allemand passed away peacefully, "With her mother, boyfriend, and other life-long friends by her side."