UPDATE [May 17, 2019, 6:21 p.m. ET] — In a Twitter post shared on Friday afternoon, former WWE wrestler Shelly Martinez said that she did not write the post about Ashley Massaro dying by suicide, as it was allegedly authored by someone pretending to be her.
As of this writing, The Blast still reports Massaro’s cause of death as an apparent suicide. However, local officials have yet to make any announcements about the matter.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:
New reports suggest that former WWE superstar Ashley Massaro’s cause of death was an apparent suicide, one following a long battle with depression which she had blamed on the injuries she suffered during her wrestling career.
On Friday, WrestlingNews.co quoted a Facebook post from Massaro’s friend and former WWE colleague, Shelly Martinez, who was the “first to confirm” that the 39-year-old retired wrestler had died by suicide. TMZ Sports, which first broke the news of Massaro’s passing, did not mention a cause of death, but noted that she was found unconscious on Thursday morning at her home in Suffolk County, New York. Massaro was then taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“My best friend from the wrestling business died from suicide two days after responding to 300+ fan letters,” Martinez wrote.
“She was the happiest I have seen her in years, so stoked that people still cared about her 11 years after her career was over. There are no signs. It comes without warning. If you are going through the worst sh*t in your life, just know that you are not alone. PLEASE seek help.”
Shortly before her passing, Massaro tweeted a photo showing several letters from her fans, explaining that she had just answered a “ton” of those letters.
As noted by The Blast, Massaro was previously one of about 60 wrestlers who filed a class action lawsuit against WWE, alleging that the promotion did not do its part to protect its performers from concussions and other injuries that could lead to long-term brain damage. The outlet also quoted an affidavit from 2017 that was released by Massaro’s lawyer, Konstantine Kyros, wherein the former WWE Diva Search winner claimed that no one in the company warned her about the “long-term risks associated with concussions or repeated head trauma.”
We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of former WWE Superstar Ashley Massaro. WWE offers its condolences to Ashley’s family and friends. https://t.co/PqHSRbOGso— WWE (@WWE) May 17, 2019
Aside from detailing the long-term effects from the physical injuries she suffered as an active wrestler, Massaro said in her affidavit that she was still dealing with depression, migraines, and “severe” short-term memory loss. She also made mention of her past addiction to pain medication, which forced her to enter WWE’s Former Talent Rehab Program.
Following Massaro’s death, a number of wrestlers appeared to hint at — but not explicitly state — her apparent cause of death as they eulogized their late friend on social media, Ringside News reported earlier on Friday. These included former WWE Intercontinental Champion Marty Jannetty, who tweeted that he “knew [Massaro] wouldn’t have died from drugs” and that all she had to do was to call him if she needed help.
Meanwhile, Michelle McCool and Velvet Sky offered similar comments about not knowing what people may be going through in life, with McCool adding that “life’s greatest struggles are often hidden behind a big smile.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.