Fact of the week: The Suicide Forest
Credit to Research Team: Mendel Lim
Hello everyone, it’s the end of the term test week and the start of term break. Hope that you have done well for your subjects. For this week’s Fact of The Week, I will be sharing about Aokigahara, The Suicide Forest or commonly known as Jukai (Sea of Trees).
Picture of aokigahara suicide forest
Resting in shadows of Mount Fuji, one of the world’s most popular suicide location.
The Aokigahara Forest has long been considered a haunted place due to stories about earthbound spirits known as yurei who perish with a deep sadness or anger in the forest as well as the legends of people leaving seniors in isolated places, including these woods, to die during times of famine. Its reputation grew following the Japanese fiction book about a couple that goes there to commit suicide.
Since the 1950s, Japanese businessmen have wandered in, and at least 500 of them haven’t wandered out, at an increasing rate of between 10 and 30 per year. Recently these numbers have increased even more, with a record 78 suicides in 2002. In 2003, that record was beat with a number of 105 bodies discovered.
Due to the vastness of the forest, desperate visitors are unlikely to encounter anyone once inside the so-called “Sea of Trees”, so the police have mounted signs reading “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,”(Rough translation) and “Your life matters!” (Japanese:あなたの人生は大切) on trees throughout.
This doesn’t deter determined people from committing suicide in this dense forest. Annually about 70 corpses are found by volunteers who clean the woods, but many are forever lost in the very thick woods. Japanese authorities discontinued publishing exact suicide numbers in order to avoid making the place even more popular.
Locals say they can easily spot the three types of visitors to the forest: trekkers interested in scenic vistas of Mount Fuji, the curious hoping for a glimpse of the macabre, and those souls who don’t plan on leaving.
This research isn’t About encouraging people to go there to commit suicide.