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Japan’s suicide forest


In Japan, an epidemic of sorts has been happening for quite some time. The area is known as “Suicide Forest” 樹海 (in Japanese) it is located in a place called Aokigahara青木ヶ原 (in Japanese). There are around 100 suicides which happen in this area each year. Speculation is with the global financial crisis, Japanese people have become severely depressed leading to suicidal thoughts. There has been a film made about this called The Forest (2016). The film features British actress Natalie Dormer. You might know her from the HBO television series Game of Thrones as Margaery Tyrell.


Japan is the world’s third-largest economy, which has since suffered financial loss in recent times. It is also believed over time further suicides will continue to happen. Part of this stems from the magnitude-9 mega earthquake and tsunami which hit the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan back on March 11th.

A statistic mentions that 57% percent of the suicide victims were out of work when they killed themselves. Of those recorded deaths, men in their 50’s, 30’s and 40’s were the biggest demographic in these suicide cases. Yukio Saito who is the executive director of Inochi no Denwa (Lifeline) said: “This generation has a lot of difficulty finding permanent jobs, and instead people take on temporary work that is unstable and causes great anxiety.” Japan is also prone to suicidal fads.


The forest floor of this area is made up of volcanic rock making it rather difficult to break through with hand tools like picks and shovels. This area also consists of icy caverns and several of them have become popular tourist locations. Back in 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest, this exceeds the previous record of 78 back in 2002. It seems these numbers are increasing each passing year.

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The site’s popularity has been attributed to the 1960 novel titled Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees) by Seichō Matsumoto. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel’s publication, and the place has long been associated with death. With the high rate of suicides officials have placed signs in the forest (both in Japanese and English). The messages basically say “Suicidal visitors please seek help and don’t kill yourself”.

Some believe the suicides in the forest have permeated the trees in Aokigahara, this had led to findings of paranormal activity. The local wildlife has been driven away and those who dare enter the forest can never escape its grasp


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