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Alyssa Funke was a student at the University of Wisconsin who committed suicide on her parents’ boat in April 2014 after being targeted by online harassment and insults for having starred in an adult entertainment film earlier that year. Like other teen suicides, such as Amanda Cummings and Mitchell Henderson, her death became the subject of many conversations online about the issue of cyberbullying.
In March 2014, the adult entertainment website CastingCouch-X posted a video starring then 18-year-old Wisconsin resident Alyssa Funke using the pseudonym “Stella Ann.” Following the release of the video, Funke began receiving insulting and threatening messages from former high school classmates on her social networking profiles. On March 4th, Funke posted a Facebook status update about being a victim of online harassment.
Between April 14th and 15th, Funke posted two tweets referencing her adult video. On the following day, Funke was found dead on her parents boat after shooting herself with a shotgun.
Pornstar Status.— alyssa funke (@Funkeetown) April 14, 2014
FAMOUS for dayzzzzzzz
— alyssa funke (@Funkeetown) April 15, 2014
On April 17th, 2014, Minnesota resident Paul Anderson posted a page on the crowdfunding website Fundrazr titled “The Alyssa Stop Bullying Fund,” asking for money that would be donated to anti-bullying charities. On May 8th, the fundraiser ended with $165 raised of the $1,000 goal.
News Media Coverage
On April 17th, the University of Wisconsin news blog UWRFVoice reported on Funke’s passing, noting that a cause of death had not been released by authorities. On May 19th, My Fox Twin Cities aired a news segment about Funke’s suicide, noting that she had received harassing messages after the CastingCouch-X video was released (shown below). The segment also contained an interview with social worker Joy Friedman of the non-profit Breaking Free, an organization that assists women in leaving the sex industry.
In the coming days, several news sites, including The Daily Mail, The Daily Beast, The Daily Dot, Metro, The Huffington Post and Gawker, reported on the online discussions surrounding the role that pornography and cyberbullying may have played in Funke’s suicide, with many comparing this case to the harassment received by adult film star Belle Knox. In addition, Jezebel criticized the lack of initiative from the police and school officials who were involved in the case, one of whom reportedly explained that the students at Stillwater High School suspected of cyberbullying will not be facing disciplinary action, because “they’d never been in trouble for cyber harassment before.”
The Daily Beast – A College Students Death Is Now a Talking Point About Porn
The Huffington Post – College Student Alyssa Funke Commits Suicide Following
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