Aokigahara, already widely recognized as the Sea of Trees, is a forest on the northwest rear of Mount Fuji on Honshu island in Japan. It is supported by 30 square kilometers of cooled lava that was set down by Mount Fuji steadily during the past volcanic explosion in 864 CE. The western portion of Aokigahara is a well-liked visitor and educational location because it has several caves that freeze over in the winter. Aokigahara has many areas that are extremely dense, and the porous lava rock consumes sound, which adds to the forest’s perceived sense of loneliness, according to some tourists.
In Japanese mythology, yurei, or spirits of the dead, are said to reside in the woods. Aokigahara has been linked to suicide at least since the 1960s; it later earned the moniker “Suicide Forest” in English and prestige as one of the most popular suicide locations worldwide. Because of this, some paths have signs at the beginning advising suicidal hikers to consider their families and call a suicide prevention organization.
Tourists are reminded that “life is a beautiful gift” from one‘s parents by an indicator at the forest’s entry. The sign reads in Japanese, “Calmly think once again about your mom and dad, brother and sister, or kids.” Don’t suffer silently. initially, reach out. The evil reputation of Aokigahara has existed for many years.
The protagonist of a well-known 1960 book by Japanese author Seicho Matsumoto enters the forest with the intention of ending her life. More recently, a woman searches the area for her twin sister who has gone missing in the woods in the 2016 American horror movie “The Forest.”
Based on a local authority report, over 100 non-locals who lived in the vicinity of Aokigahara attempted suicide between 2013 and 2015. As per data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and social welfare, there were about 24,000 suicides nationwide in 2015. Suicide attempts are not included in these figures.
Researchers have long questioned the reasons why some people decide to die in the trees. Aokigahara suicide victims were interrogated by a Japanese psychiatrist thirty years ago, and one of his findings was that “they suspected that they would be able to kill themselves effectively without being recognized.”
Films and news articles could have also played an important role, according to the psychiatrist Dr. Yoshitomo Takahashi. Since they wished to “share the same area with others and belong to the same group,” some people who came to the woods from other regions, according to his writing, may have done so. Chikako Ozawa-de Silva’s anthropology research on the prevalence of online suicide forums in Japan was cited by Nakamura as supporting evidence. The web, in Ozawa-de Silva’s words, gives those who crave social interaction and fear separation a way “to die with others.”
Since many individuals have committed suicide in Aokigahara, Nakamura sees a possible parallel to the way people think about the forest: “You won’t die lonely.”
Based on the World Health Organization, Japan had the 26th highest time of life rate of suicide worldwide in 2015. There were 15.4 deaths overall per 100,000 people, with 9.2 suicides among women and 21.7 suicides among men. This number is higher than in the majority of developed countries, such as the United States (12.6), the United Kingdom (7.4), and Italy (5.4), but lower than in a number of other countries, such as Belgium (16.1) and South Korea (24.1).
According to one study, suicide death rates decreased across many peer countries between 1985 and 2010, with the exception of Japan and South Korea, where rates rose by 20% and 280%, respectively. The economic crisis that hit Japan in the late 1990s, according to numerous analyses, had a significant impact on the country.
A variety of risk factors, such as academic stress, depression, work overload, financial hardship, and joblessness, have been mentioned in other studies and government materials.
Facts About The Aokigahara & Japan
One of the most well-known places in the world for suicide is Aokigahara. Due to the forest’s lushness and the fact that some bodies may go unfound for years or even be gone entirely, numbers on suicide rates in Aokigahara vary. According to some estimates, up to 100 people commit suicide there each year.
Ritual suicide is a tradition in Japan. In Japan, self-inflicted death is not as stereotyped as it is in other nations. Seppuku, or the honorable suicide of a samurai, is a tradition that dates back to feudal Japan. Despite the fact that the practice is no longer common, “remains of the seppuku society can still be seen in the manner suicide is perceived as a means of accepting duty today.”
Suicide rates are high in Japan. In Aokigahara, the Japanese government implemented suicide prevention measures. The plans sought to lower suicide rates in Japan by 20% over a seven-year period. These precautions should include rising patrols and placing security cameras at Aokigahara’s entry. Aokigahara is by nature a little creepy. Trees in the forest naturally sway and turn, their roots weaving perilously through the undergrowth. The surface is patchy, mountainous, and laced with hundreds of caves due to its position at the foot of a mountain.
There may be ghosts in the suicide forest. Some people hold the belief that the yurei, or spirits, of those who were neglected by Ubasute and the somber spirits of those who committed suicide still roam the forest. According to folk tales, they are vicious, committed to torturing tourists and trying to lure the depressed and lost off the paths. Since 1970, there have been yearly inspections in Aokigahara for the dead person. Participants prowl the area and find the deceased’s remains.
To bring bodies out of the woods for a decent burial, local cops and helpers hike through the sea of trees. Each year between 70 and 100 human remains were found in the early 2000s. The Japanese government has recently refrained from making public the body count found during the lookups.