The tragic story of Alyssa Funke, the 19-year-old college freshman who took her own life after being outed as a porn performer, was particularly personal to Belle Knox.
Knox, a Duke University student and rising star in the porn biz, wrote on xoJane that she sees "chilling" parallels between Funke's story and her own.
We were both straight A students. Like you, I have battled depression for years. I too was a freshman in college when I was outed as a porn performer. We even shot for the same website, where I had an experience that traumatized me to this day. And, just like you, I was bullied relentlessly by my fellow students for my actions as a porn performer.
Knox writes that she also considered killing herself, even imagining the headlines that would haunt her bullies forever, but felt "a flicker of hope" that caused her to keep going.
She doesn't blame the porn industry for Funke's suicide, but, like Funke's parents, she does blame cyberbullying (and the stigma against porn and sex work that gives rise to that harassment).
Funke drove to her family's boat and killed herself with a 12-gauge shotgun May 14. A porn video she starred in for amateur site CastingCouch-X was released in March, and students at her former high school outed her just two weeks later.
Knox's open letter, laying out everything she wishes she'd been able to tell Funke before her death, is so popular that it crashed xoJane when it was posted. You can still read Google's cached copy.
[Photo of Funke via Twitter]