Tragic Beauty: The Exclusive Story of a Bachelorette's Suicide

December 25, 2013
In a Dr. Phil exclusive, the mother of reality TV star Gia Allemand opens up about her daughter’s tragic suicide. On August 14, 2013, the 29-year-old former The Bachelor star was removed from life support two days after her boyfriend, NBA player Ryan Anderson, found her clinging to life after her suicide attempt. Gia’s mother, Donna, says she was the last person to speak to her daughter. Did Gia give any warning signs of what she was about to do? Donna speaks out about what she believes is the real reason her daughter took her own life. Then, he broke her heart on The Bachelor, but they developed a close and deep friendship. Bachelor star Jake Pavelka remembers Gia in an emotional tribute. And, Gia’s former publicist, Penelope Jean Hayes, remembers her kind and gentle friend.

If a friend or loved one is talking about or planning to take his or her life, reach out for help now. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).








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Gia with Jake on The BachelorGiaDonna, Gia's motherJakePenelope, Gia's friend and former publicist

A Mother's Loss

Gia Allemand captured the hearts of viewers across America as the bubbly, sweet-natured New Yorker who fought for a shot at true love during Season 14 of ABC’s hit reality show, The Bachelor. She made it to the final three before being sent home. Gia went on to star on two seasons of ABC’s spinoff show, Bachelor Pad. Both her TV and modeling careers were taking off, and she’d finally found love with NBA player Ryan Anderson. On the outside, Gia seemed to have it all. Then, headlines broke that Gia was in the hospital on life support battling a “serious emergency medical event.” Two days later, Gia was removed from life support and passed away. She had hanged herself — while on the phone with her mother.

Dr. Phil sits down with Gia’s mother, Donna, in an exclusive interview.

“I’m so sorry for your loss,” Dr. Phil tells Donna. “I want to make sure everybody knows who this beautiful young woman was in this world. How did she decide to get involved in The Bachelor to begin with?”

Donna says Gia had a bad breakup and a friend suggested she go on the show. “And that was, believe it or not, the best thing for her,” she says. Donna says her daughter fell in love with herself after that experience.

“Until that time, did she feel like had to be in a relationship, she had to have a man to be OK?” Dr. Phil asks. 

“No, just when she had one, she gave 150 percent,” she says.

“I’ve always said you should never invest more in a relationship than you can afford to lose. Sounds like she invested everything,” he says.

“She gave her whole heart. She always had such a big heart for everybody but not for herself,” Donna says.

The Last Person to Speak with Gia

Donna says her daughter occasionally battled with “dark spots” in her life. She was talking Gia through one of these moments on the phone when Gia took her own life. She replays the conversation — does she think her daughter planned her actions ahead of time? 

“I didn’t expect this. I figured I could talk to her, like I always do.”

Donna explains Gia’s history of having dark moods at certain times of the month. And, why does she blame Gia’s father?

Donna says she tried several times to get Gia help with therapists, but she wouldn’t go beyond one or two visits.

Donna says Gia and her boyfriend had a big fight that day, and that may have affected her. She says Gia would often get insecure and start fights and push people away, which may be what she was trying to do with Ryan.
 
“Did she ever have suicidal thoughts, or even talk about it, or threats?” Dr. Phil asks.

“She had it as a cry for attention,” Donna says. She says twice her daughter took sleeping pills, and when Donna frantically rushed her to a hospital, she says Gia told her she was just trying to get a good night's sleep. Donna says her daughter never threatened suicide. “She would get really sad and say, ‘I can’t take this.’ This time, I was expecting the same thing,” she says. “I didn’t see any signs.” Donna says Gia was even making future plans, and talking about moving back to New York.

“Did she tell you that Ryan said he didn’t love her?” Dr. Phil asks.

“No, she didn’t say that. She just said, ‘I’m so tired of being hurt. I can’t do this anymore,’” she says.

“After the fact, I realized she was saying goodbye to me.”

Donna says when the phone went silent, she began trying to reach Ryan on another phone, to get him to go check on Gia. She says it wasn’t until the next day that she realized the incoherent mumbling she heard at the end of the call was Gia struggling for breath after hanging herself.

Donna says taking her daughter off life support was difficult, but she knew that Gia was already gone. She says she believes her daughter has already visited her from the other side, giving her signs that she is finally happy.

She says she and Ryan talk every day and want to start a foundation to help other girls who may be struggling the same way Gia did.

“As a mother, who has tragically lost such a precious child here, what do you say to young girls who are struggling right now?” Dr. Phil asks.

“Talk to your mom. Talk to your best friend. Try to remember, in your mind, what you think you’re thinking, it’s not real,” she says. “Let them in, because that’s what you’re doing; you’re feeling that you don’t have anybody, but you’re pushing them all away.”

"I Loved Gia"

Jake Pavelka starred on Season 14 of The Bachelor. As the cameras rolled, Jake fell hard for Gia, and although they didn’t end up together at the end of the show, the two remained close friends. Jake says he’s been "rocked to the core" by her death.

“She truly is one of the most amazing friends I’ve ever had.”

Although he says he loved her, Jake says the “timing was off” for a romantic relationship.

“You said in a quote, ‘I stayed out of Gia and Ryan’s way but always held out hope that one day, I would end up with Gia,’” Dr. Phil says.

“I exercised respect for Ryan. I was not in love with Gia, but I loved Gia,” Jake says.

Dr. Phil asks Jake about the item he put into Gia’s casket.
 
Jake explains that he always carried around a small box of mints that Gia once gave him. It was sentimental to him and a good memory. At the funeral, he asked Gia’s family if he could put it in her casket. “It was a way for me to feel close to her, giving them back to her,” he says.

“It’s so tragic that she died having the very thing she wanted the most — she was loved by you, she was loved by Ryan, she was loved by her family, she was loved by so many people, but couldn’t feel and receive it at that point in time,” Dr. Phil says.

Stepping Out of the Spotlight

Gia’s former publicist, Penelope Jean Hayes, says she had no idea her lighthearted friend was battling such dark moments. “This is everybody’s daughter, everybody’s sister, everybody’s best friend. Why did this happen to Gia? Why didn’t anybody know?”

“This is something that could affect anyone.”

Dr. Phil tells his viewers, “Gia’s boyfriend, Ryan, was not able to join us here today. We reached out to him and offered him an opportunity to be part of this tribute to Gia in any way that he felt comfortable. Ryan told us that he was not yet ready to speak publicly about his loss. We certainly understand and wish him the best.”


If danger is imminent, call a suicide crisis line, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.


Dr. Phil gives his final thoughts. And, see a video tribute to Gia.