April 17, 2024

Aokigahara: The Suicide Forest

Aokigahara forest, base of Mount Fuji is the most popular place to commit suicide in japan over 100 bodies are found each year and rising

Brief History

On the year 834, Mount Fuji erupted in the forest. The lava turned the terrain janky and the roots of the trees filled the the forest grounds the hence the name “Jukai” or sea of trees, mainly called “Jukai” because at the peak of the mountain it looks green all year round, so it looks like a ocean. At a forest plantation center works a geologist Azusa Hayano who works over the land while the center is small, many cars lie in the parking lot and stay for months untouched that lies besides the forest, better known as “the Suicide Forest”. In traditional Japanese culture, only samurai were the ones to commit suicide in a act called “Seppuku” for those poor families who have no choice but to leave their grandparents in the forest where they commit “Seppoku” in the forest.  In 2021, Japan reported 16.8 suicides per 100,000 people, having one of the highest suicide rates per country. This is due to the high stress and pressure on the Japanese work environment.  

Geologist Azusa Hayano

Photo Taken By Vice: Geologist and Nature guard, Azusa Hayano

Geologist and nature guard, Azusa Hayano over his last 20 years working near the forest says he discovered over 100 bodies lying within the forest. He says that he found trails of tape lined tree to tree for those who are indecisive to end it and find their way back. He also find tents and sleeping bags left behind and finds notes. He says these notes or other pieces of art are from people who haven’t decided to do it but contemplating if they should. Hayano have met one guy who attempted suicide but hadn’t committed it, after finding and talking with the man, he went back home wanting to live, but scarred from the noose on his neck. Hayano stated his theory for the rise of suicide rates may have been caused from people living online instead of the real world daily as it is easier to know someone’s personality and emotions if they are right in front of you.

“You think you die alone, but that’s not true. Nobody is alone in this world. We have to coexist and take care of each other. That’s how I feel.”

Azusa Hayano

Into the forest

From the parking lot leads a trail into the forest and a sign that pleads for the person to think about how precious their lives are and how it will affect their loved ones with contact to suicidal hotlines. There is a public trail for visitors but it is not recommended for use as the trail could be easily lost and it’s better to avoid smaller subtle trails that may lead to a victim or their belongings scattered around the forest, or find curses left by people damning society and people according to Hayano. Most common method is hanging and common to find nooses, if cut, the body was discovered. Sleeping pill overdose is another common way, but doesn’t always work leaving the victim weak and suffer from the forest until they wither away. Some bodies are not found for years even becoming skeletons.

Source: https://youtu.be/4FDSdg09df8

https://www.statista.com/statistics/622249/japan-suicide-number-per-100-000-inhabitants/