It’s known as “the perfect place to die.”
In light of recent events involving celebrity YouTuber Logan Paul, some people may just be learning about Japan’s “Suicide Forest,” better known as Aokigahara Forest.
The “Sea of Trees” is a dense forest northwest of Mount Fuji that has, in recent years, garnered an unsavory reputation. Like the Golden Gate Bridge here in America, Aokigahara has become internationally known as a popular site for people to commit suicide.
If you wanted to step off the well-marked path in the 7,400-acre forest, you could very easily hide. The forest has thrived on 12 square miles of hardened, porous lava that absorbs sound, allowing visitors to experience a stronger sense of solitude and quiet.
The forest is also a goldmine of flora and fauna, filled with mammals such as the Asian black bear, deer, fox, mice, bats, rabbits, and a plethora of birds and beetles that would overwhelm even the nerdiest of nature buffs.
Despite the forest’s beauty and depth, Aokigahara maintains its unfortunate reputation as a suicidal site. In 2003, 105 bodies were found, exceeding the 78 found the previous year. As the years went on, the number of bodies increased. In an attempt to quell some of the “enthusiasm” for Aokigahara as a suicidal destination, officials have ceased publicizing the numbers.
Now, as you enter the Sea of Trees, you’ll be greeted by signs that read, “Life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult police before you decide to die!” But those messages don’t do much to deter those who are convinced that suicide is their only option.
Each year, volunteers pull dozens and dozens of bodies out. However, many remain lost to the woods forever.
Those who are struggling may find solace in the dense quiet of Aokigahara, but local officials would be first to tell you that what they often find is less than comforting. Many bodies they find are badly decomposed or have been picked apart by wild animals.
“There is nothing beautiful about dying in there,” shared one local officer.
If you find yourself in the region and want to visit, either to witness the stunning views or the macabre, it’s important to be as respectful as possible if you come across a victim of suicide. These are people’s darkest moments, we should have the respect and decency to handle what we witness inside Aokigahara with great care and consideration. One of the most important things to do is to contact local authorities so they may handle the situation.
Aokigahara is one of the world’s most stunning destinations filled with nature. Anyone with respect for the destination will almost certainly be enriched from what the Sea of Trees has to offer.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, it’s imperative that you reach out to a friend, a loved one, or a local hotline.