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September 19, 2017

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Promising writer dies at 26 from apparent suicide

Promising writer Lin Yi-han (林奕含), who published a bestselling novel this year about a girl raped by her teacher, died at the age of 26, allegedly by her own hand, authorities said Friday.

The Taipei City Fire Department said it received a call on Thursday that a woman had hanged herself in her home in Taipei. It confirmed that the woman was Lin, who had been open about her depression and past attempts to take her own life.

The police said a suicide note was found at the scene and initial investigations have ruled out the possibility of foul play.

According to a United Daily News report, Lin's husband said the writer had hanged herself in her bedroom and showed no signs of life when he found her.

In a statement released Friday on the Facebook page of Lin's publisher Guerrilla Publishing, Lin's father Lin Ping-huang (林炳煌) and mother Lai Chia-fang (賴嘉芳) said what occurred to the protagonist in their daughter's debut novel "Fang Ssu-chi De Chu Lian Le Yuan" (房思琪的初戀樂園 literally, Fang Ssu-chi's First Love Paradise) was actually her own experience.

The novel, published in February, is about a young girl named Fang Ssu-chi who was raped by her teacher.

Lin's parents said they believed an incident that occurred 8-9 years ago, instead of depression, was the main cause of Lin's pain and nightmares.

"She wrote the book because she hoped there will never be another Fang Ssu-chi in society," the statement said.

Born into a famous dermatologist's family in the southern city of Tainan in 1991, Lin was diagnosed with depression when she was a teenager. She scored the full 75 grade points in the college entrance examination in 2009 and was admitted to a medical university.

However, she dropped out just two weeks and retook the college entrance examination, switching her major to Chinese literature. But due to her depression, she was unable to finish university and again dropped out of school in her junior year.

"I often suffer from mental illness episodes that prevent me from attending school. For a long time I felt inferior," the writer once said in an interview.

In the author's biography section of the novel, Lin introduced herself as someone with not much professional or academic experience.

"Out of all my identities, I am most accustomed to my role as a mental illness patient. My dream is to write novels, and like what Kenzaburō Ōe said, advance myself from a mere reader of books, to a person of culture, to an intellectual," Lin wrote.

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office said that if her family wishes to press rape charges, prosecutors will handle the matter according to the law.

A senior prosecutor said in this case, prosecutors can investigate the matter if Lin's family presses charges and provides evidence, such as the suspect's name, time and location of the alleged crime.

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