Stop Calling It the “Suicide Forest”

On Jan. 2, 22-year-old vlogger Logan Paul posted a video which exhibited a victim of suicide still hanging from a tree in Aokigahara, Japan, otherwise known as the “Suicide Forest.”

Paul’s extremely disrespectful action inevitably called attention to the forest, which has a misrepresented and devastating history to begin with.

Aokigahara, locally known as Jukai, is a forest at the bottom of Mount Fuji, and is known as the “sea of trees” because dense greenery resembles that an ocean. Aokigahara has a trail open to the public to view its natural beauty, but the forest is further known for those who stray past the trail, as happens to be the most popular place to commit suicide in Japan.

According to Japan Times, Japan is the sixth highest country in the world for suicide, and the second worst in the eight most industrialized countries. Between 2013 and 2015, more than 100 people committed suicide in Aokigahara according to government reports.

In a documentary from Vice, Japanese geologist Azusa Hayano spoke about the history of suicide in Aokigahara, “in the old days in japan, suicide was mainly known as a samurai’s act… in other cases, poor families would abandon their elders in the mountains.” Hayano later explained that Aokigahara is known for underprivileged people taking their own lives because they couldn’t provide for their families, and they saw no other way out.

Often, firefighters and volunteers do searches of the forest to look for victims of suicide, or to talk people down from suicide while they stay in the forest. As a volunteer, Hayano said “I think I’ve found more than 100 suicide corpses in the last 20 years or so.”

Tortured souls venture into the forest and most of the time never come back. The history of Aokigahara is one of extreme pain and suffering, which is why it should be shown respect. Travelling to Aokigahara should not be made into a quest to get views on Youtube, but should be shown upmost reverence if visited at all. Instead of disrespecting the history of Aokigahara by labelling it the “suicide forest” call it by its name.