October 22, 2013
Forest Of Death: One Of Japan’s Scariest Places
Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, this will send a chill down your spine. There is a forest in Japan called Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees. It is 14 square miles of dense growth on the northwest side of Mount Fuji in Japan.
The forest sits on top of volcanic rock with many trails used for annual “body hunts.” Since 1970, these hunts have been conducted by local authorities and volunteers with journalists accompanying them, searching for bodies of suicide victims. While on these hunts, the searchers claim to hear screams and crying, also photos and videos that are taken show mists and orbs not seen with the naked eye.
The forest is known for its high suicide rate. In 1998, 74 people were found in the forest, dead from apparent suicide. In recent years, the number of suicides has climbed steadily: 78 in 2002, 100 in 2003, and 108 in 2004. In 2010 there were 247 attempted suicides within the forest, with 54 of them being successful.
The Japanese government is no longer announcing the number of suicides in order to curb suicide attempts at the forest. There are also signs at the forest’s edge in both English and Japanese trying to control the suicide rate.
The signs say, “Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Please think about your parents, siblings and children. Don’t keep it to yourself. Talk about your troubles. Please contact the Suicide Prevention Association.”
It is said that the suicides increase during the month of March and the most common method for this distressing act is hangings and drug overdoses.
Aokigahara Forest is second in the world to the Golden Gate Bridge for suicides and suicide attempts. A 1960 novel, Nami no To, written by Seicho Matsumoto, that ends with two lovers who take their own life in the forest has been attributed to the suicides. But death has been part of the forest’s history long before the book’s release.
The practice of ubasute was performed in the 19th century in the forest. This was where an elderly woman was taken and left to die.
A controversial best seller by Wataru Tsurumui was released in 1993 called The Complete Suicide Manual; it mentions the Aokigahara forest as “the perfect place to die.” This manual has been found beside the victims of suicide many times in this ghostly forest.
Although this forest is the most popular area for suicide, Japan itself has an epidemic of this gruesome crisis. A report from CNN states, “There were 2,645 suicides recorded in January 2009, a 15% increase from the 2,305 for January 2008, according to the Japanese government. The Japanese government said suicide rates are a priority and pledged to cut the number of suicides by more than 20 percent by 2016. It plans to improve suicide awareness in schools and workplaces. But officials fear the toll will rise with unemployment and bankruptcies, matching suicide spikes in earlier tough economic times.”
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