Alyssa Funke, a 19-year-old biology student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, committed suicide on April 22 after being harassed for her work in pornography. The first-year student killed herself with a 12-gauge shotgun at a boat landing on Big Carnelia Lake.
Funke recently starred in an amateur porn film as “Stella Ann” at the website CastingCouch-X. Former classmates from Stillwater high school began posting rude messages through Twitter and Facebook when they found the video.
One student tweeted, “Wow your a thot,” which means slut. Another wrote: “Nothing brings a school together like a porn star who graduated last year. I guess you could say news spreads fast here at Stillwater hahah.”
Although Funke suffered from recurrent depression, the family of the straight-A student claims that cyberbullying must have played a significant role in their daughter’s decision to take her own life, Huffington Post reports.
Funke’s death follows media reports of persistent harassment and discrimination of Belle Knox, a Duke University freshman, after she publicly identified herself as a porn star.
“I am breaking down barriers between mainstream and the adult industry. I think that’s great, and I want to keep getting my message about female empowerment and sex worker rights,” Knox said, Fox Twin Cities reports.
Pornography is currently a $10 billion-industry in America that is considered to be even bigger than major leagues like the NFL, NBA and MLB.
Joy Friedman, a social worker at the non-profit Breaking Free, said that since children are exposed to pornography at a relatively younger age today, they don’t realise that their decision to enter the porn industry could traumatise them for a lifetime.
“This is permanent, she can’t erase this. Now, it goes into your family, it goes into your friends, it goes into your career,” Friedman said. “In the future, this is what you’re known for and this is who you’re labeled as. That affects you.”
Friedman believes that most porn actors might not have had a smooth sailing in early childhood.
Funke’s biological father has a rap sheet for theft and swindling; her mother and a boyfriend were arrested for dealing drugs and disregarding their younger children. Funke struggled with money ever since she moved in with her grandmother as a young teen.