Disclaimer: Firstly, there are a lot of images and videos in this post, so I had to break it up into 10 pages to save loading time – you will see the page numbers on the bottom just before the comments section. Secondly, everything written below actually happened, nothing is fabricated.
Lastly, and most importantly, if you’ve happened upon this post and you live in Japan, keep an eye out for your close friends and talk to them if you think they might be having suicidal thoughts; here is a very helpful pdf which details the warning signs of someone who may be suicidal: Suicide First Aid Guidelines For Japan. Also, if you are having suicidal thoughts yourself, try to stay positive and remember that your pain is only temporary once you realise that others can help you – there is help out there. Please talk to your friends and loved ones, if there is nobody who you can trust, please visit the Tokyo Counselling website or the Japan Counseling directory and find a professional to talk to. Life is worth living, if you give it another chance, you might realise that too.
“Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore the equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything.” - C.G Jung
Aokigahara Forest, which is located at the foot of Mt Fuji in Japan, is one of those places that few wish to visit. Most people who do enter the 35 km2 forest never return due to its reputation for having the second highest suicide rate in the world (first place goes to San Fransisco’s Golden Gate Bridge). An average of 70-100 bodies are found there every year, and many are left undiscovered. The forest was created when Mt. Fuji – an active volcano – erupted 1,200 years ago and the trees emerged on top of the dried lava. The forest is known by many names: Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), Jukai (樹海) which translates in English as The Sea of Trees), Suicide Forest, the Cursed Forest, the Black Forest, and finally the locals I asked in Japan called it ‘NOOO, don’t go there!’ while they made the shape of an X with their arms. Sadly, the forest has long been associated with death and evil spirits (even before it became a popular place for suicide) as ubasute is believed to have been practiced in its woody depths, which is an old Japanese tradition where the elderly and sick are carried up a mountain or into a forest and left to die – sort of like the story of Hansel and Gretel, except with old people.