The tragic suicide of a 26-year-old Taiwanese writer has sparked a debate in Taiwan.

Lin Yi-han published her first, and bestselling novel, Fang Si-Chi’s First Love Paradise, in February. The book details the story of a teenage girl who was seduced and coerced into sex by her cram school teacher.

After Lin was discovered dead in her own home late April, her parents released a statement through her publisher Guerrilla Publishing. They revealed that the events detailed in the novel were Lin’s own experiences, and said that the main cause of her death was not her depression but her alleged rape by a celebrity tutor 8-9 years ago.

Photo: Facebook/Lin Yi-han.

“Her goal for writing the book was in the hope that there will not be another Fang Si-chi in society, in the hope that all the parents, and the kind boys, girls, and men in the world, can use tenderness and warm spirits to protect the Fan Si-chis of the world.”

The stories of the four female characters in the book were all based on Lin’s own experiences, but she chose to tell them through multiple characters in order to protect her parents and her family, they said.

Lin was open about her depression or bipolar disorder and made several attempts to take her life previously, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. She never confirmed whether her work was autobiographical.

Following her death, public debates about rape, mental health, and problems in Taiwan’s education system sprang up.

Netizen manhunt 

Social media users also launched a manhunt for Lin’s alleged abuser. Following online allegations, cram school tutor Chen Kuo-hsing admitted that he had a two month affair with her. He said that it happened in August 2009, when she was no longer his student, and that the pair ended their relationship after her parents found out about it. Lin would have been over 16, Taiwan’s legal age of consent.

The cover of Lin’s book, Lin Yin-han. Photo: Guerilla Publishing/Facebook.

The events have inspired some to come out about their own experiences with sexual assault on Taiwanese social media PTT. Others questioned Lin, asking why sympathy was warranted for an adulteress, speculating about her mental state, and commenting on her physical appearance, according to The News Lens.

It also spurred calls for stricter laws in Taiwan governing the tutoring industry. A draft bill requiring staff at cram schools to use their real names in ads and contracts passed its first screening at Taiwan’s legislature on Wednesday.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.