A recent Auburn graduate and Valley, Alabama, native has been found dead after a weekend of extensive searching.
Maranda Whitten, 24, who often went by Randi or Randy, drowned on a kayaking trip over the weekend, the Troup County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office said Monday.
"The search for Maranda Whitten has unfortunately been suspended," the sheriff's office said. "Maranda was found earlier this morning a victim of an apparent drowning."
Her drowning is believed to be a suicide, authorities said.
Whitten majored in sociology at Auburn, served as a Community and Civic Engagement Fellow, participated in the College of Liberal Arts' Living Democracy Program and was heavily involved in other areas on campus.
While participating in the Living Democracy program, Whitten worked alongside community activists at the Restoration154 nonprofit in Elba, Alabama. She worked with teens at the Elba High School's Interact Club to develop projects that had a positive impact on their community while also partnering on other projects like Elba's Giving Garden and Pea River Outdoors.
In February, The Plainsman profiled Whitten as she met another student at the Cam Newton statue outside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The two met and developed a budding relationship over social media, which soon became a local internet phenomenon.
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"Auburn doesn't rank very high when it comes to LBGTQ acceptance, but it seems like we have a lot of support out here," Whitten told The Plainsman at the time.
She was last seen on Aug. 17 in a teal-colored kayak at about 2 p.m. Her kayak was found later near the Shafer Heard Campground near the dam on West Point Lake along the Alabama-Georgia border
When she was found, she had an extension cord missing from the campground tied to her ankles and tethered to a large rock, authorities said.
"This tragedy is being treated as a suicide and as standard
The Sheriff's Office has declined to release any further information
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-age students, with an estimated 1,088 occurring on college campuses each year. It is preventable. If you are feeling suicidal, there is hope and these resources can help:
- You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.
- You can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741.
- You can call The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.
- If you are hard of hearing, you can chat with a Lifeline counselor 24/7 by clicking the Chat button on this page, or you can contact the Lifeline via TTY by dialing 800-799-4889.
- You can speak to a crisis counselor in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
- If you are a veteran (or your loved one is a veteran), you can reach the Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.
Local Treatment services:
- Student Counseling Services — (334) 844 5123
- Health Promotion & Wellness Services — (334) 844 1422
- Auburn University Medical Clinic — (334) 844 4416
- Auburn University Public Safety — (334) 844 8888
- Auburn University Student Conduct & Advocacy — (334) 844 1305
- Auburn University Psychological Services Center — (334) 844 4889
- Auburn University Marriage & Family Center — (334) 844 4478
- East Alabama Medical Center — (334) 749 3411
- Active Minds, an Auburn student-run organization, promotes mental health awareness on campus, and Health and Wellness provide QPR — Question. Persuade. Refer. — suicide prevention training. Those are available here.
The Plainsman hopes to highlight Randi's impact on campus and her involvement in the community. If you have memories of her and would like them to be featured in The Plainsman, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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