The professional wrestler and Survivor: China star passed away on Thursday (May 16) at age 39.
One of Ashley‘s close friends, Shelly Martinez, aka Ariel in the wrestling world, said in a statement, “My best friend from the wrestling business died from suicide two days after responding to 300+ fan letters. 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 s–t in your life, just know that you are not alone. PLEASE seek help.”
Before her death, Ashley was involved in a class action lawsuit against the WWE – 60 wrestlers accused the company of “failing to protect its employees from repeated head trauma and concussions that eventually developed in long-term brain damage.”
The lawsuit was dismissed last year after a judge called it “frivolous.” It was then appealed and is still ongoing.
According to the 2017 affidavit, Ashley said, “I attribute these issues to my work-related injuries sustained while working for the WWE, and specifically to the routine repetitive blows to the head, I received in the ring over the course of my career which were not properly diagnosed or treated.” She added that the WWE did not live up to its responsibilities, and “as a result, it has caused me severe and ongoing pain and suffering, emotional distress and financial hardship.”
Ashley also said that the WWE “used narcotics as a tool to allow me and other wrestlers to perform through our injuries. If we took enough pills, the pain went away (temporarily) and we were able to wrestle.” She explained that the pills led to an addiction to pain medication, which she sought treatment for through the WWE Former Talent Rehab Program.