In Japan, at the base of Mount Fuji, there is a forest called Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees. It has breathtaking views. It also has a lot of suicides.
Taro, a 46-year-old man fired from his job at an iron manufacturing company, hoped to fade into the blackness. “My will to live disappeared,” said Taro. “I’d lost my identity, so I didn’t want to live on this earth. That’s why I went there.” Taro, who did not want to be identified fully, was swimming in debt and had been evicted from his company apartment. Taro bought a one-way ticket to the forest, west of Tokyo, Japan. When he got there, he slashed his wrists, though the cut wasn’t enough to kill him quickly. He started to wander, he said. He collapsed after days and lay in the bushes, nearly dead from dehydration, starvation and frostbite. He would lose his toes on his right foot from the frostbite. But he didn’t lose his life, because a hiker stumbled upon his nearly dead body and raised the alarm.
Aokigahara Forest is home to the highest number of suicides in Japan. (Last January, there were 2,645 suicides recorded in the country). Local authorities, saying they are the last resort to stop people from killing themselves in the forest, have posted security cameras at the entrances of the forest.
According to the UK Telegraph, 48 people have already killed themselves in the forest in 2009.
A spokesman for Narusawa and Ashiwada, two of the three villages that border the forest, said: “I think everyone has the same reason for choosing this area. It’s because of the novel by Seicho Matsumoto, Kuroi Jukai (Sea of Trees). After that was published 23 years ago the number of suicides around here increased.” The novel tells the story of a woman who has a love affair with a young public prosecutor. He is blackmailed by the woman’s husband, and the only escape for the lovers is a double suicide inside the dark and mysterious Aokigahara forest.