The suicide forest of Japan is one of the most haunted places in the world. The World Health Organization reported that 15.4 suicides per 100,000 individuals occurred in Japan in 2015. Despite a decline in 2016, according to The Guardian, Japan still has one of the worst suicide rates in the world.
In addition, although officials no longer provide statistics, The Japan Times reported that 247 people made suicide attempts in the Aokigahara forest in 2010; 54 of them perished.
The poetic imagination has long been troubled by Aokigahara Forest. It was once thought to be the residence of Japanese ghosts known as Yūrei. Today, it serves as the final resting place for up to 100 suicide victims yearly.
Aokigahara is a 30-square-kilometer forest that extends beneath Mount Fuji, the highest mountain peak in Japan. The dense forest was known for many years as the Sea of Trees. However, it has a new name as of late: Suicide Forest.
What Forest in Japan is Known for Suicide?
Towering trees that are hundreds of years old are a feature of the lush green surroundings. By stating on its website that “if you walk off the track, all you will see around you are trees, making it very easy to become lost,” the Japanese tourism office cautions tourists to stick to the approved trails.
In fact, ropes separate different parts of the forest and advise visitors to stay aware of the situation. But the forest is also known for another thing: it is the scene of some suicides.
In the past, suicide in Japan was mostly associated with samurai behavior, according to geologist Azusa Hayano, whose comments were translated by Vice for a 2012 documentary. Other times, low-income families would leave their elderly relatives in the mountains.
It used to be like that. Because of their inability to integrate into society, they weren’t killing themselves. That didn’t occur the way it does today. It is a contemporary phenomenon.
Aokigahara is a site of untamed beauty and tranquility for some visitors. To get breathtaking views of Mount Fuji, hikers seeking a challenge can navigate through dense stands of trees, tangled roots, and rocky terrain.
Schools occasionally bring students to see the area’s well-known ice caves on field trips.
But it’s also a little creepy because the trees have grown so close to one another that guests will spend much time in the shadows. Only the sporadic trickle of sunlight that emerges through holes in the treetops provides relief from the darkness.
The quiet is what most visitors to Japan’s Suicide Forest claim to recall. The forest floor is formed of volcanic rock, which is cooled lava from Mount Fuji’s huge 864 eruptions beneath the downed branches and decomposing leaves.
Hard and porous, the stone is covered in small holes that absorb sounds. Visitors claim that in silence, every breath sounds like a roar.
It’s a calm, solemn spot, and quiet, serious individuals have passed through it. The number of suicides in Suicide Forest is thought to reach 100 each year, despite reports being purposefully obscured in recent years.
The suicide forest of Aokigahara in Japan has long been the subject of rumors, myths, and legends. The earliest are unproven rumors of an old Japanese tradition called ubasute.
An elderly dependent relative, usually a woman, might be taken by her family to a secluded region and left to die during feudal times when food was short and the situation became severe.
Many academics contest the notion that senicide was ever widespread in Japanese culture, suggesting that the practice itself may be more myth than actuality. However, stories of ubasute have appeared in Japanese poetry and mythology, where they have since become associated with the spooky, silent Suicide Forest.
The Yūrei, or ghosts that tourists claimed to have seen in Aokigahara, were initially thought to be the enraged spirits of the dead who had been left to starve and be at the mercy of nature.
But in the 1960s, when the forest’s complicated, protracted history with suicide began, everything started to alter. The phantoms of the woodland now are thought to be the thousands of depressed people who came there to commit suicide.
Many think a book is to blame for the macabre appeal of the woodland resurging. The Black Sea of Trees, which is frequently translated as Kuroi Jukai by Seicho Matsumoto, was published in 1960. The story’s lovers commit suicide in the Aokigahara Forest.
However, reports of seeing dead bodies in Aokigahara as early as the 1950s. It may never be known what drew the brokenhearted to the woodland in the first place, but it has earned and is well known today as Japan’s Suicide Forest.
The Body Count from Aokigahara and The Black Sea of Trees
An annual search for bodies has been conducted by a tiny army of police, volunteers, and media since the early 1970s. Almost never do they depart without something.
The number of remains retrieved from the woodland has dramatically risen in recent years, peaking in 2004 with the discovery of 108 bodies in various states of decay. And it only explains the bodies that the searchers were able to locate. Many more have vanished beneath the trees’ twisted, winding roots; some have been taken by animals and eaten.
The Golden Gate Bridge is the only place in the world where suicide rates are higher than in Aokigahara. It is no secret that the woodland has become the ultimate resting place of many people since officials have posted signs at the entrance bearing cautions like “please reconsider” and “think carefully about your children, your family.”
Police patrol the region frequently in an effort to politely re-direct guests who don’t appear to be considering making the trip back.
2010 saw 247 attempts at suicide in the woods, of which 54 were successful. The most frequent cause of death is typically hanging, with drug overdose coming in second. The Japanese government stopped disclosing the total number of suicides out of concern that they could inspire others to follow in the footsteps of the deceased.
Hence there are no data available for recent years.
The Logan Paul Controversy
Many visitors to Japan’s Suicide Forest are simply tourists; not all of them are contemplating suicide. However, even visitors can find it difficult to ignore the forest’s reputation.
People who go off the path occasionally encounter unsettling remnants of earlier tragedies: dispersed personal items. The forest floor has been found covered in moss with shoes, pictures, briefcases, notes, and torn clothing.
Visitors occasionally discover worse. Logan Paul, a well-known YouTuber who entered the woodland to record, experienced what happened. Paul knew the forest’s reputation and intended to display it in all its creepy, silent splendor. He didn’t, however, bargain for discovering a dead body.
Even as he and his friends called the police, he continued to film. He released the film, which featured horrific close-up shots of the body and face of the suicide victim. The choice was contentious regardless of the circumstances, but his on-camera chuckling surprised viewers the most.
The response was swift and ferocious. After being uploaded, the film received 6.3 million views in 24 hours. Politicians and celebrities expressed their disapproval of Paul’s video that showed the corpse and his group’s responses to it. Additionally, he was charged with being disrespectful to suicide victims by other YouTube users.
He was also criticized for other inappropriate actions he was caught doing while on the trip, such as climbing onto a moving forklift at the Tsukiji fish market, stripping off in the middle of a busy street, fighting with one of the people he was travelling with, and hurling a massive Poké Ball at onlookers, including a Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department officer.
Paul’s channel was requested to be removed from YouTube by a number of Change.org petitions, the biggest of which, as of February 9, 2018, had more than 720,000 signatories. Paul removed the video, but not without opposition. He expressed regret and self-defense, claiming his goal was to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.”
YouTube denounced Paul’s video in a statement sent on their Twitter account on January 9.
Throughout the tweets, they stated: “We’ve been listening to everything you’ve said, but it’s taken us a while to answer. We’ll have more to say soon about the measures we’re taking to make sure a film like this is never shared again because we are aware that one creator’s actions may have an impact on the entire community.”
On January 10, YouTube announced that it was taking Paul’s channels out of Google Preferred, its preferred advertising program. New World Order, the follow-up to his YouTube movie The Thinning, was also put on hold, and Logan Paul VS. was no longer broadcast.
The YouTube Red series Foursome’s fourth season was also cancelled, and he lost his role as Alec Fixler. Following the problems, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer also cancelled the showing of the musical movie Valley Girl, in which Paul plays Mickey Bowen.
Reporters from TMZ saw Paul at LAX on January 15. He claimed that he has gained a lot of knowledge from his errors and that he has been handled “fairly.” Paul said, “Bro, everyone deserves second chances,” when questioned if he deserved a second opportunity.
In response, he gave suicide prevention organizations $1 million, of which a quarter will go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
This post is made for raising awareness of suicide and for suicide prevention. Suicide hotlines provide help to those in need. Contact a hotline if you need support yourself or need help supporting a friend. If you’re concerned about a friend, please encourage the person to contact a hotline as well. RIP Victims of Aokigahara.
Phone: 1 800 273 TALK (8255)
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