A man playing the role of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, accidentally hanged himself during a performance on Easter Sunday.
Jose Ignacio, 23, died April 16 during the play "Viacrus de Jesus" in Barranquillas, Mexico, according to the Daily Mail, as first reported by Mexican news media. Ignacio was cast as Judas, who, after betraying Jesus, feels so ashamed that he runs off to hang himself.
The scene required Ignacio to tie one end of a rope around his neck and the other around a tree to simulate the hanging. He slipped off the platform that was supporting his weight, however, leaving him dangling in midair. Audience members tried to revive him, but to no avail.
He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead from strangulation.
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The Attorney General's office of Michoacan has announced they are launching an investigation into the matter at hand. Police say they feel prepared to rule out foul play and classify Ignacio's death as an accident.
Accidents like this have happened before. In 2012, a Brazilian actor playing the same role of Judas was strangled to death during the same infamous hanging scene, according to Daily Mail. It was believed at the time that the man's safety vest, which was supposed to help support his weight while he was suspended by the rope, had slid up around his neck and eventually suffocated him.
The crowd and fellow cast members watched for nearly four minutes before they realized it was not part of the act and rushed to his aid. Tiago Klimeck, 27, was kept on life-support for 17 days before succumbing to his injuries.
In 2000, Italian man Renato Di Paolo was also playing Judas in an outdoor play under similar circumstances as had Ignacio and Klimeck. Di Paolo had performed the suicide scene a day earlier with no problems, according to Salon. But during a performance the following day, Di Paolo jumped from a rock and the noose around his neck tightened, killing him.
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Passion of the Christ plays are popular in predominantly-Catholic areas of the world, like Mexico, Brazil and Italy. But the Philippines also has a large Catholic population, and they carry a tradition unlike many others around the world -- they literally reenact the crucifixion.
According to the Inquirer, male volunteers subject themselves to the same torture methods that Jesus suffered, with other participants flogging themselves with a whip. In the middle of a large crowd, the volunteer will carry a cross to a specified location, where steel nails are then driven through his hands to pin him to the cross. Thousands gather to watch the gory depiction.