Gia Allemand's Boyfriend Calls Her Suicide 'The Most Painful Experience of My Life'

Ryan Anderson talks to Sports Illustrated about moving on from his girlfriend's tragic death

Photo: Gary W. Green/Landov; Inset: Kevin Foley/ABC/Getty

It’s been over a year since The Bachelor‘s Gia Allemand committed suicide at age 29 and her boyfriend, Ryan Anderson is still reeling from the loss.

In the Nov. 17 issue of Sports Illustrated (a sister publication to PEOPLE), the basketball player speaks out about the importance of suicide prevention and calls Allemand’s suicide “the most painful experience of my life.”

“I’ve been given a platform in the NBA,” Anderson, 26, a forward for the New Orleans Pelicans, tells SI. “I know when I’m done playing, people aren’t going to really care about me, the way I shot three-pointers. But during this time when I have a voice, I think it’s really important for me to talk about it. People need to put a face to [suicide prevention and survival], and I’m O.K. being that face.”

As the article points out, people who die of cancer are praised for their bravery in battle while suicides are portrayed as selfish acts.

“Anyone who knows Gia knows that selfish was the last thing she was,” Anderson said. “She would never want to cause anyone suffering. She just wanted to escape the pain.”

Anderson found Allemand on Aug. 12, 2013, after an attempted hanging in the New Orleans apartment they shared. She was rushed into emergency care, but it was too late; life support was withdrawn due to a loss of brain function and Allemand passed away on Aug. 14.

To remember her, Anderson often wears the key-shaped necklace she gave him; Allemand wore the heart.

Click here to read Sports Illustrated‘s extended, online version of their Ryan Anderson story.

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