The Forest of Suicides: Aokigahara

There is a dark and famous forest in Japan. Its sad fame is due to the fact that it is the place chosen by many suicide bombers. It is located at the base of Mount Fuji. It is the Aokigahara forest. It is known by the nickname Jukai, or "sea of ​​trees." It is nothing more and nothing less than the forest of suicide bombers.

Sign in the forest of the suicides that tries to dissuade those who seek death.
Sign in the forest of the suicides that tries to dissuade those who seek death.

Throughout the forest, signs abound that try to discourage potential suicide bombers. It is a very silent and dark forest. There is no cell signal. There is very little wildlife and the area is full of caves. It is so easy to get lost that hikers who enter it often leave colored ribbons tied to the trees. They hope to facilitate the return of the repentant suicide bombers who enter it. The Aokigahara Forest is one of the places in Japan where most suicides are committed.

How did the forest of suicide come to be?

Some believe that the origins of this sinister "fame" as a place of suicide date back to the 19th century. Poor families left their elderly or sick relatives in the forest to die. It was a form of "euthanasia" that in Japanese is called ubasute. Something called The Complete Manual of Suicide, a 1993 book written by Watary Tsurumi. Mention the forest and currently prohibited in the country.

Some call it Jukai, "Sea of ​​trees", where it is very easy to get lost. Here it is difficult to find your way around the impossibility of using compasses, GPS or mobile phones.

The forest of suicide bombers is a temptation for people who want to end their lives.
The forest of suicide bombers is a temptation for people who want to end their lives.

The forest has a group of volunteers who walk its paths. They are looking for the bodies of the people who decided to end their lives. There are many who are lost and days, months and even years pass before they are found. It is not uncommon to find flowers and small sanctuaries at the foot of the trees. They are deposited by the relatives of the deceased in the places where their bodies were found.

Isolation, a key problem

In a documentary made by geologist Azusa Hayano, he walks through the forest in search of the traces left by his visitors. “When you find a forgotten tent, it means that the person who went to the forest was still struggling with the idea. It may also be that the body was not found. ” But the most important thing in your job is locating people. And try to convince them that it is worth continuing to live.

"Isolation is the leading cause of depression and suicide," said Wataru Nishida, a psychologist at Temple University in Tokyo. The kamikazes and the Japanese tradition of harakiri they are now used as the reasons that justify this problem. The culture around suicide could be a factor for Nishida. But the most plausible explanation he gives in order to understand this phenomenon is that in Japan the Christian tradition is not deeply rooted, so committing suicide has never been a sin. Furthermore, in Japanese society, committing suicide is seen as a way of assuming responsibility. The truth is that in Japan, suicide is the main cause of death among men between 20 and 44 years old, figures that shot up with the financial crisis of the 1990s.

The forest of suicide bombers will continue to be dark. Not only because of the sad memory of everything that happened there. But also for what it offers in the present, and which will offer much more time: a place for suicide bombers. A place to die.

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