Tue, Jun 27, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Publisher threatens suicide over media outlet’s allegation

‘CYBERBULLY’:Taiwan Reporter said that the suicide of a young writer was connected to her work’s rejection by ‘a famous publishing house’

By Wang Kuan-jen, Yao Yueh-hung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

First responders on Sunday thwarted an apparent suicide attempt by Aquarius Publishing’s editor-in-chief Chu Ya-chun (朱亞君), who had threatened to jump from her high-rise apartment in Taipei’s Wenshan District (文山).

Firefighters arrived at the scene at 8:55pm and found Chu preparing to jump.

After one hour, Chu was convinced to stand down by her friends, family and a psychiatrist who police officers summoned to the scene, police said.

Chu told police her suicide attempt was caused by media reports that she had displayed “condescension” by refusing to publish a book by Lin Yi-han (林奕含), which led to the young writer’s suicide on April 27, police said.

Guerrilla Publishing picked up her sole novel, Fang Ssu-chi’s First Love Paradise (房思琪的初戀樂園), which became a best-seller.

Lin’s death and alleged sexual abuse by a teacher became the source of much public controversy and the case is still under criminal investigation.

In a story entitled When Fang Ssu-chi Became Real, the Chinese-language online media outlet Taiwan Reporter said Lin’s suicide was connected to her manuscript’s rejection by “a famous publishing house,” an apparent reference to Aquarius.

Chu denies her characterization in those accounts.

In a Facebook post shortly before the incident on Sunday night, Chu said Taiwan Reporter refused to let her respond to the article, adding that its “sensational language” had put her “on trial by public opinion.”

In an earlier post dated Wednesday last week, Chu said she was impressed with Lin’s manuscript, but decided against publishing out of her growing sense of alarm that publicity might prove dangerous to the troubled author, whom she talked with several times.

Chu made oblique references to her impending suicide attempt in the Facebook post on Sunday, and witnesses said they heard Chu shouting from a window: “If I do not die today, they will cyberbully me again tomorrow.”

Taiwan Reporter at 1am yesterday issued a retraction of the article, apologizing for “not having interviewed the key people involved in the story and thereby failing to perform due diligence in abiding by the rules of balanced reporting.”

The references to Chu and Aquarius Publishing in When Fang Ssu-chi Became Real have been removed from its Web site, Taiwan Reporter said, adding that the reporting errors were not motivated by malice.

“Third parties are urged to refrain from making ad hominem attacks or conspiratorial speculations against any of the individuals involved, including Chu, Aquarius and Guerilla Publishing,” it said.

Additional reporting by Lin Mei-hsueh

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