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Student suicide: Alyssa Funke kills self after bullied for amateur porn video

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Back in April, a 19-year-old University of Wisconsin student was found dead from a fatal shotgun blast after suffering weeks of taunts and slurs via social media in response to an amateur porn video she had participated in. Although she had defended herself and seemed to be rolling with the criticism, her family noted during a later investigation into the young woman's suicide that she was affected by the adverse commentary.

The Daily Mail reported May 22 that Alyssa Funke, who was studying to be an anesthesiologist, starred in a sex video she agreed to do in Las Vegas for amateur porn website CastingCouch-X earlier this year. The porn video was posted in March with Funke using the alias "Stella Ann."

The attractive brunette was quickly recognized, according to an investigative report from KMSP-TV in Minneapolis, and a flood of abuse washed over the University of Wisconsin student's various social media accounts. Many of the abrasive, denigrating comments came from former classmates at Stillwater High School where Funke had graduated just a year prior to going off to college. KMSP found that many of the students at Stillwater High would gather at cafeteria tables and watch the video.

Still, Alyssa Funke didn't seem to mind the ridicule. She defended herself, firing back at her tormentors on Twitter: "Pornstar status" and "FAMOUS for dayzzzzz." Even the last comment she posted on Facebook (March 4) read of defiance: "The people that envy & hate you the most, stalk you on social media the most so, hey hi hello how r u doing, this ones for you."

At least, she never seemed to mind -- until April 17. That day, she bought a shotgun, went out to Big Carnelia Lake, and killed herself on the family boat.

So how does a straight-A college student with dreams of becoming a medical professional suddenly wind up making the questionable decision of participating in a porn video, suffering the slings and arrows of public humiliation (including by a few she undoubtedly once counted as friends), then committing suicide?

A suggestion from social worker Joy Friedman that a troubled past might have been the precursor to Alyssa Funke's tragic story prompted KMSP to look into the 19-year-old's background. She had a father with a jail record. Funke's mother and a boyfriend were arrested for dealing drugs and neglecting Funke's younger siblings. As a teen, the young girl moved in with ther grandmother. At college, she experienced financial problems.

Alyssa Funke's story stands in contrast against that of Duke University's Miriam Weeks, the amateur porn star known as "Belle Knox" who outed herself earlier this year after being "harrassed" by acquaintances.

"My name is Belle Knox, and I wear my Scarlet Letter with pride," she wrote on XOJane.com. She said she refused to "let the bullies win."

Knox took her notoriety and parlayed it into interviews and television appearances.

"I am breaking down barriers between mainstream and the adult industry," she told FOX 5 in New York City. "I think that's great, and I want to keep getting my message about female empowerment and sex worker rights."

Knox penned a heartfelt open letter on XOJane.com on May 23 on the death of Alyssa Knox, noting, "The similarities between us are chilling."

Knox made her first porn video with CastingCouch-X as well.

Admitting she'd had moments of doubt and self-recrimination following the outpouring of ridicule and condemnation leveled at her, she added, "That could've been how it all ended for me, too."

As for the porn video, it can still be found on CastingCouch-X, despite Alyssa Funke's death and being notified by KSMP-TV of her tragic suicide. At the time of the report, the website had yet to respond to the station's queries regarding the video's continued presence on the site.

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