The Aokigahara Forest: Suicide Capital of the World

The Aokigahara forest, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a 14 square mile forest that rests at the base of Mt. Fuji. It is known for being extremely quiet due to the density of the trees and absence of wildlife, and has an historic association with demons in Japanese mythology. It is also a popular place for suicides. There have been so many suicides in the forest, that there are signs up both in Japanese and English urging people to get help.

In 1998 74 people killed themselves in the forest; in 2002, 78. By 2003, the rate had climbed and exceeded the 100 mark. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the Sea of Trees and in 2010, 247 people at least attempted suicide, but only 54 completed the act. It is said that suicides increase in Japan toward the end of the fiscal year, which is in the month of March.

 

In recent years, the local government has quit publicizing the numbers of suicides in order to downplay the forest’s association with suicide. Every year since 1970 there has been an annual body search consisting of police, volunteers, and journalists.

The exact reason this forest is so popular for suicides remains a creepy mystery.

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