Monday, June 24, 2024

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A tragedy, depression, and what to do about it

Op-ed by Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
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Ex-WWE superstar Ashley Massaro was found hanging in an apparent suicide, multiple sources connected with the situation told TMZ Sports on Tuesday. She was found unconscious inside of her Suffolk County, NY home the last Thursday morning after not reporting to her Long Island disk jockey job, was transported to a nearby hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

The depression she had suffered in recent years, may well have been in part the result of an incident, outlined in an affidavit she signed as part of a concussion class action lawsuit by Konstantine Kyros.

In the affidavit, Massaro states that she had been raped by a member of the U.S. military when she was sent to Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia in 2006 on a two-week tour with Maria Kanellis, Ron Simmons, and Jimmy Hart.

Massaro had been dehydrated on the trip, and was being treated with IV, but left by herself without military or WWE talent, when a service member dressed in an orange shirt and cargo shorts (claiming to be, but likely not a U.S. Army doctor, accompanied by a woman in military uniform.

“While I was still in the sickbay, he approached me and almost immediately administered an IV of an unknown substance in my other arm. Almost immediately after, the alleged doctor and the woman in fatigues moved me into a room that did not appear to be a treatment room and placed me on a table. The woman guarded the door while the man proceeded to inject me with a drug that caused me to be unable to move my body or to scream,” she wrote…The man then proceeded to violently rape and sodomize me. I was completely helpless to defend myself against this attack as the drug he injected rendered me temporarily paralyzed. Despite being unable to control my movements, I remained fully conscious for every second of the attack.”

Massaro described the rape as “excruciating pain[ful] as a result of penetration by force and in a violent and aggressive manner”

Massaro stated that said that after she returned stateside, she met with WWE’s Dr. Rios and told him about the rape, with the information provided to Vince McMahon. A meeting was set up between herself, McMahon, Kevin Dunn, John Laurinaitis, and other company executives and attorneys.

“Vince led the meeting with these men and asked me to recount what happened in Kuwait. Then he said it was not in the best interest of the WWE for me to make the information about my attack public. I was still completely traumatized at that point and I just agreed…It was clear that there had already been a conversation and that they had reached a decision on their own prior to consulting with me as this was not a debate but rather Vince instructing me to keep this confidential.” McMahon then stated to Massaro “if she discloses the incident, it would ruin the relationship between WWE and the U.S. military.“

Rather than deal with what WWE should have done, I want to deal with the real cause of Ashley Massaro’s death: depression.

Given that we’re ironically finishing Mental Health Awareness Month this May, let’s take a look at some numbers I wrote about a year ago during a blog on the Mauro Ranallo SHOWTIME documentary. It seems sad that the issue of depression is coming up yet again in connection with WWE.

1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.

1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias.

It’s not clear if this could have been related to the sexual assault she reported in the above affidavit, the possible effects of CTE that was the allegation that the Kyros lawsuit the affidavit was a part of, or both.

Some have gotten angry at those who’ve posted online that Massaro died as the result of committing suicide…as if this somehow dishonored her memory.

As a society, we treat mental illness in an entirely different manner than we treat physical illness. If someone has a broken arm, they get it X-rayed and a cast put on it. If someone has a hernia, as I have, they get surgery. If someone has cancer, they are treated with some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to try to save their life. If someone has an allergy, they take medication, or avoid the item they are allergic to as much as possible (or in some cases, avoid it completely). But no one thinks twice about it.

But if someone is dealing with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, they are told to “snap out of it”, to “grow a spine”, to “deal with it”. No one would think of saying those words to a child with leukemia…but they would, and do, to those dealing with mental illness.

From any evidence that’s been presented, Ashley Massaro didn’t get the help she needed. If any of you feel alone, or in need of someone to talk to, please do so. If you are reading this blog, and dealing with depression, bi-polar disorder, or other mental health issues, please understand YOU ARE NOT ALONE. As the numbers above show, you are FAR from alone. Please talk to someone and use the resources here, or find someone you trust to help you. You ARE worth helping.

  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) – (800) 826 -3632
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)- 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Mental Health America (MHA) – (800) 969-6642
  • Adolescent Crisis Intervention/Counseling Nineline 1-800-999-9999
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
  • Mental Health America (800) 969-6MHA (6642)/In crisis? Call: 1-800-273-TALK
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) 800-656-HOPE

Until next time..,

If you’ve questions or comments, email me at [email protected] or [email protected].

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