The tree’s thick branches and leaves shields the ground from almost all sunlight. On the ground, between thick roots and exposed dirt, lies a body. Flesh and organs have rotted and there is nothing left but bones. A skeleton still dressed in dark pants, a green T-shirt, and hiking shoes, all lying there completely untouched except for the skull which seems to have rolled a few inches away from the rest of the body.
For a number of years, the Aokigahara Forest has been one of the most popular sites for suicides in Japan. The large forest is flooded with trees and exposed roots, which in some places makes it hard to move forward. At one of the entrances to the forest, there is a sign set up by the suicide prevention association. Each year 50 to 100 people come to the forest and take their own life. Most hang themselves, some try to overdose on sleeping pills, while a few may have wondered off the path, contemplating suicide and then have become lost. Whether they regretted their decision is unknown.
“I’m curious why people kill themselves in such a beautiful forest. I still haven’t found the answer to that.”
The authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis but some bodies are not found for years. Others are found but by the homeless who have snuck into the forest to rob the diseased of their belongings. Abandoned tents can sometimes be found, as well as items which has either been accidentally dropped or abandoned. Clothing, maps, small mirrors, water bottles, notebooks, and suicide letters.
If you are interested in learning more about the Suicide Forest, I recommend you watch ‘Suicide Forest in Japan’ by Vice. A brilliant documentary from 2012, which tells you more about the forest, the people who come there and whose who find the bodies.
Remember, if you are in need of help then there is always someone who is ready to listen and give you the help you need. Everyone deserves to be happy, it is never too late and suicide is never the answer. Visit International Suicide Hotlines or post in the comments below, if you need someone to talk to.
Vice. “Suicide Forest in Japan”. Online video clip. YouTube. May 9. 2012.
Original photo: Cyril Bez