Suicide Forest in Japan

Suicide Forest in Japan

2012, Society  -   109 Comments
Ratings: 7.97/10 from 249 users.

Suicide Forest in JapanThe Aokigahara Forest is a lonely place to die. So dense is the vegetation at the foot of Japan's Mount Fuji, it is all too easy to disappear among the evergreens and never be seen again.

Each year the authorities remove as many as 100 bodies found hanging at the country's suicide hotspot - but others can lie undiscovered for years.

After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published, in which a young lover commits suicide in the forest, people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year.

The site holds so many bodies that the Yakuza pays homeless people to sneak into the forest and rob the corpses.

The authorities sweep for bodies only on an annual basis, as the forest sits at the base of Mt. Fuji and is too dense to patrol more frequently.

Warning: This program contains content matter which some viewers may find disturbing.

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3 years ago

I think....I think you should try to help someone, but don't force them, forcing only makes things the end let them decide..... persuade them, don't manipulate them

4 years ago

It is so sad when a person is desperate and hopeless, no one to talk to. Admire the kind uncle doing the best what he can to help.

4 years ago

How can I come in contact with the guy in the video, I'm doing a project

4 years ago

It’s not the easy way out, it’s incredibly difficult, brave and honorable. People who say it’s the easy way out are already living an easy life.

5 years ago

Horsesh*t to the caring commenters.
You say you care but if one dollars is left on the table you'd cut anyone in your way.

Annebel Bunt
5 years ago

Hey Gabby,

I don't think I'd ever visit the forest myself. But I do have some answers to your question about the silence.
"The volcanic rock which the forest grows out of is naturally porous. This means it absorbs sound, making the forest oddly quiet and serene.
Also contributing to the silence is the fact that parts of the forest are very dense
In addition, volcanic rock is often naturally magnetic."

Hence your compass was messing with you.

5 years ago

I Want To Say Every One That Suicide Is Not An Answer
Leave Your Beautifull Life

6 years ago

I actually just visited this forest today. I went with a few friends and we decided to follow some of the "ropes" that we came across. We only made it to the end of one that was actually just dental floss wrapped around the trees. It was really weird because when we reached the end there was a pile of stuff. Like there was boxers, socks, glasses, and then a bottle of medicine and a notebook underneath it, but since the dental floss ended we figured that we shouldn't go any further because its so easy to get lost and we didn't have any string with us. Plus none of us touched the stuff because of the whole respect the dead aspect of everything, but it was interesting to hear in the documentary that sleeping pills were the second most common way to commit suicide in the forest and also that if you follow the rope then you'll always find something at the end. It just fit what we saw so perfectly.

Side Note: The magnetic field really does mess with compasses and also your phone too. What makes it even creepier is that you don't hear any birds chirping, insects flying around or really see any sort of wild life. Like I'm terrified of spiders but I didn't even come across a web once or any insect. So I was surprised to hear all those birds in this doc. I wonder if they just added some foley.

7 years ago

I watched this a while back. I can understand why people would head into a forest like this. Not for the folk tales of the supernatural, but the peace it brings, to allow you to truly contemplate what is really eating away at you inside. The peace can, in a way, act to lower ones inhibition, allowing one to find themselves and perhaps within find a meaning to living, whilst for others it can remove the final mental block, allowing them to be at peace as they choose the, as others would think, less favourable path.
I've been there, I still am. Still taking meds. I've tried to OD, hang myself and cut my neck but failed. Yet I still find no meaning for myself, I just continue biding my time until I can gather enough energy to try again.
It's something you can't really explain to people no matter how much you wish you could, even if they would truly listen.
When I see the doctor, there is only ever one question, and I can never get past it.
"What do you want out of life?" I want nothing.

7 years ago

Is it really a pu**y way out? Think for a few minutes. Life has gotten to the point, when you have tried anything and no one is here to help. No one is given you the answers you are looking for. So much pressure,depression, sadness, hurt,on this Earth, even if you take medication, it can make you worse. Seeing a professional, can not take away how you really feel inside once you have made up your decision. Sometimes it is better to let go. For all of us, try to see the warning signs, try to help if you can, but don't judge.

emma gurl
7 years ago

I don't think it is that bad I mean if they want to kill themselves go ahead and let them do it.

7 years ago

It was hard to watch, I wish they had more forest rangers so more suicides could be interrupted.
One of my passions has always been trying to give/share hope and love, and I'd like to hear these people's stories...I'm writing a blog and future books (I hope), to offer hope in general and perhaps address this. I have to become a student of cultures first, so that I can write sensitively.

And to those asking, last I knew, South Korea has a higher suicide rate than Japan.

8 years ago

Rule number 1 don't kill yourself!!!!!!!!

8 years ago

The guy in the tent is probably hanging from a tree I thought he was there to help people but in the video he walked away my point is if people want to die they will die no one will stop them its there life they can end it if they want but I just think its the pu**y way out

blu paws
8 years ago

I found this really eerie and I watch a lot of similar documentarys, wish the documentary. Was in full.? Any one know where to find it, brave man, I found the skeleton. Haunting and desperately sad

Nard Lagundino
9 years ago

I want to watch the rest of this video? Where i can find it?

10 years ago

where is the rest of this????

11 years ago

Didnt answer question for me ... when did this start happening and why. Okay, monks, but doesnt give enough info!!

11 years ago

i can see why someone would want to go. Things pile up and there are self centered people especially in places like South Florida. in a HUD rental place..looks beautiful.pool plants and such but there is an undercurrent with one staff member that has all the old ones full of fear. She does not believe in God..her choice but evil in thought and actions.,. She seems to get a kick out of being sadistic .. which she cleverly hides when officials are here, Each and every one of the old people she harasses is treated as if they made things up. Maintenance and all tenants are told not to talk to talk to them. I AM SURE A LOT WE SEE JUST WITHER AWAY ARE REALLY SUICIDES IN A LONG WAY INSTEAD OF AT ONCE. SOME WERE REALLY CREATIVE AND WITH TREMENDOUS PERSONALITIES UNTIL SHE DESTROYED THEM. I AM FIGHTING THAT. I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT SHE IS DOING. I ALMOST WELCOME GOING..AND THAT IS NOT LIKE ME AT ALL. CANNOT TAKE HER WITH ME. DAMN!

11 years ago

I love it at the end where the ad comes up. "Want to see more? Sure you do." Lol.

11 years ago

The production of the vdo is a bit too dramatic and definitely balancing on 'romantic' visions of suicide. The "Jukai" is a vehicle for the destination of suicide in Japan as as guns are vehicles for suicides in America - no overtones of mysteries with a morsel of logic applied to the environment. I would appreciate a more objective piece of documentary journalism starting with removing altogether the lucid musical score that is in contrast with the serene ambient sounds of the Aokigahara forest. Although the commentary could be valid there is very little empirical data to back up nearly all of his subjective insights. "After the novel Kuroi Jukai was published, in which a young lover commits suicide in the forest, people started taking their own lives there at a rate of 50 to 100 deaths a year." Seriously, WHERE is the supporting evidence to the "films" abstract? Because of a novel people commit suicide in the Aokigahara forest - Lame. I don't respect the directors vision on this subject matter and request that the vdo be removed until there is something other than hearsay to report. You could compare this 'documentary' to the endless AP reports that flagrantly throw "upon condition of anonymity" around like it's oxygen to sustain life. This production could inspire more suicides rather then prevent them from happening (just like the novel of course lol). Romance IS dangerous, never mind 'could be' the world is infatuated and infected by its splendor!

11 years ago

for the past few days I was planning to quit my life. I am getting fed up with this diabolical society. Still, I am alive and want to live, because everybody lives once. why should not we make an another attempt, being determined to stand out against repelling forces?
The words are still echoing in my mind _ to coexist, we should need to see each other's faces .....................
Thanks to the team for making such a fine video on the topic of suicide.

11 years ago

my father commited suicide just before the turn of the century. he had spent a few decades as a career criminal (though he prefered the term "outlaw" for its more romantic implications). having spent a decade and a half "on the lam", and seeing the latest round of laws enacted that would have eventually resulted in his capture and incarceration, he chose to end his life on his own terms, rather than spending his final days locked in a cage(he was, as we call them here in the states, a "3 time loser", so it was a foregone conclusion that his capture would result in a life sentence). he chose a similar setting (though less remote) as those in this short doc, and i have come to the conclusion that it had to do with the tranquility of the setting. a person consumed by a self perceived life of chaos and struggle might well find some solace in the concept of spending eternity in such tranquil surroundings. "peace at last, and forever", as it were. though im sure few of the folks in this forest had similar experience in the lead in to their demise at their own hand, im fairly certain as to their similar perception of the unsustainability of their existance, and the pointlessness of struggling on (no matter how ill-conceived). i share this tale not in a bid for sympathetic response, but to illustrate that i have had a good motivation to deeply contemplate the causal reasoning behind such a choice of setting, and the act itself. though i have nothing to qualify it with, the remoteness may well have to do with a lessened likelihood of discovery, allowing surviving friends and family the fantasy of "he just ran off and made good somewhere" to spare them the trauma of the truth.

11 years ago

I think we're only a generation or two away from the realization that as sentient beings we have the right to determine when and how our lives end. While I agree that teen suicide is tragic, consider how ghastly are the prospects of a 70-year-old with bone cancer. To that person, is a painless and dignified exit too much to ask?

11 years ago

...The only problem with killing yourself, is if it goes wrong, the pain from half killing yourself, must absolutely terrible, then you want to get back to being alive again, and someone to help too. Better to rig 2 or 3 things to kill you, so nothing can go wrong. I heard from a friend about his friend’s brother throwing himself off an apartment building, before he jumped, he doused himself in petrol, set himself alight then jumped, just to make sure in event that if he survived the fall he would burn to death anyway, he did die too.

11 years ago

One thing is for certain, none of us will get out of here alive.

Suicide would be my last choice on ways of leaving but preferable over lingering in a hospital with no hope. If the gods are merciful I will drop in my tracks one beautiful day while still active and in control of my faculties.

I admire the Japanese that choose to die amongst the trees. As a certified tree farmer I find a tranquility there not to be found in anything manmade.

Peace and long life, Y'all!

11 years ago

My students told me that because of the volcanic rock compasses don't work in that forest, so people used to go in there with the intention of getting lost and never coming out.

The suicide rate in Japan has been above 30,000 for the last 10 years, the highest in all industrialized countries, though I think S. Korea has the fastest growing suicide rate now.

Occasionally the topic will come up in my classes (suicide) and my students have told me that because Japanese people tend to take personal responsibility for their own problems and rarely seek professional help from psychologist, counselors, ect and because suicide is seen as an almost historical tradition in Japan people chose to end their lives that way. I think in some ways it is much easier to live here as a foreigner since I don't have to really conform to Japanese society and can be myself. Groupthink is the law of the land and if you don't fit in I think life can be very tough.

11 years ago

I think what we fail to realize is that when this old man talks about how we are losing our true nature of face to face humanity to technology, it is so gradual we fail to notice that until we see something so heartbreakingly touching like this. It is now apparent to me that the more we go into the future, things DO get very complicated. I mean I bet the 80s were carefree and beautiful , but we never realized it until we think back and I am pretty sure that is how ANY time frame may be into the past. Sigh.. it's as almost we are moving foward into a robotic society... complicated and full problems.

11 years ago

What a moving film. That man seems so kind; I can't imagine what it must be like to find so many human remains.

He is right about technology. In itself it is a wonderful thing, but we are starting to lose our humanity, in a way. That live contact, or touch, is disappearing. There is nothing like talking face to face; to actually be in the presence of someone laughing, crying or just conversing. And when we lose our last connections to nature, will we still be truly human?

I heard the Suicide Forest is haunted. Even if not in the conventional way, there must still be an aura about it where one can almost feel another world impinging on ours, calling out to these poor lost souls.

I have myself stared into that black hole at times, but the fact is it is just so final. To never see another sunset, or look up at the stars--all that would be gone forever.

It is my wish that those who have embarked upon their last journey into that forest have found peace in some way. And hopefully this man will continue to help those who are so troubled in mind and spirit.

11 years ago

I sat next to my mom's bed in the hospital, after she died, for about two hours, when I was told to leave so that she can be prepared for the morgue. While I was sitting there, she looked as if she was asleep, but she was cold. I put my forehead on her arm and her coldness was soothing... I felt guilty for a moment for having this pleasant feeling about her coldness... From time to time I would look around the hospital room, expecting to see her spirit somewhere above looking at me and telling me she was better off now... I was just hoping that maybe....

I didn't cry much, just like I didn't cry much when my father died, ten years ago. I am rational and I understand that death is unavoidable, even for my beloved parents, but this unbearable sadness just won't let go...

Forgive me all, I just needed to say these few words...

11 years ago

The spate of reported suicides in Wales is still a mystery to all except those involved but we can deduce that psychotropic medications, lack of incentives (unemployment) and NLP types of 'reframing' in addition to physical abuse, certainly provide some clues. The vid 'From Swansea with Love' could be tagged 'suicide city' or rather 'sustainable'.

11 years ago

Is it true that in the past, people would abandon their elders because conditions were made so hard they could not adapt to 'the demands of Society' any better then, than now? As is/was the case with unwanted or sick children. A self sufficient people would ensure provision and care, unless they were driven into another's control dictating otherwise.

The 'curse' idol on the tree upside down man 'in contempt of Society' is the same as the Peace Symbol: death of man. On entering, the last straw would be the placard extolling the value of life, family, friends and the telephone number of the Japanese version of Samaritans. Has anyone talked to these people? Afterwards you either go through with it, having been finally drained of energy by talking to a human brick wall or you're so frustrated, give youself a kick up the bum, laugh and redouble your efforts to make 'Society' work for you. A hopeless quest.

Up until the late 1800s, death by hanging was recorded for both failed and in some instances, successful suicides who were convicted of spectacular crimes.
So apart from the religious 'sin' of suicide (it's alright for someone to murder you but not to take your own life) was complimented in the law. Suicides, who had been interrupted and apprehended by some meddling neighbour, faced stinking horrible confinement, court, sentencing and guaranteed death.

I think we are in contol of our lives, to the extent that we are in control of our deaths. Hardly at all. The pain of those 'left behind' acts as a pull to continue an unbearable charade. But for those who had no one or nothing, it acts as the final defiance, the poke in the rancid eye of that Society which was ever exclusive to those who pay the price with lives, short or long, healthy or sick, murder or suicide. They smack us in the face of our hypocracies, pretentions and vanities like a wet cod, awaken us to the mysteries of life and death, faith and despair, courage and cowardice.

Who dies of 'natural causes' these days or from the dawn of that Society's Civilisation where war, plunder, rape, starvation and torture first began?
Every graveyard could rightly proclaim in marble and brass 'Murdered by the Medical Mafia' and still, mankind rushes to extinction in minor suicides every decision they make to obey the rules, regulations and ultimately orders of Society. A Society with their extinction in mind.

It is guilt. Guilt that pains all who remain. For no matter what they did or did not do to help the triumphant one, the event has to knock at faith, hope, charity. It has to open a door into the realms of despair gurgliing beneath the structure of Society and counts for a 'living' which is wholly antithical to life.

We have been cut off from our knowledge of life and death, whilst being relieved also by the pressures of 'right' and 'wrong' or good and evil. Euthanasia and Capital Punishment will be two important developments in furthering these aims, politely, legitimately and profitably for Society.

Society comprises of a psychopathic gang of serial killers; Pyrates of Old. How then, can one remain sane, healthy fit and full of the joys of life, when everything is polluted by and through our subservience and support of them. People are taught to think that suicide is selfish, cowardly act. This is Society speaking, as they have been robbed of control, taxes, court fees, pharmaceutical profits and have denied their family of insurance payouts, if they have the means. The insurance agents are part of Society and you have to be killed in the proper, acceptable ways in order to get a return.

If anyone can bear it, there's a unique book available called Jacobs Ladder which is the true diarisation of a man contemplating and successfully passing on through his own conscious will.

When you look at it all, this 'living' in a constructed hell, it is the living who are the cowards, the irresponsible, the blind. For given the option of changing the hell to one of life, or suicide, we duck out and opt in paying more and more to keep the whole machine running smoothly and profitably for the insane.

People who calmly plan their death in full awareness are to be as 'canaries in the mine' - huge warning neons that we really must wake up and live or die fighting. We are confused by media events whereby parents or others go on a killing spree against their own or others children then kill themselves, but many of these stories have huge back stories and are often not suicides at all, but mass state sanctioned murders.

Tony Manpakdee
11 years ago

Nice article. Very deep and self-reflective.

Teddy Mcd
11 years ago

A haiku seems appropriate.

A weathered skeleton
in windy fields of memory,
piercing like a knife

Matsuo Basho

11 years ago

I will probably travel there to kill myself one day.

11 years ago

I can definitely think of worse ways/places to check out . I don't know about hanging though , if I was ever in that frame of mind (and hopefully won't be), I think I'd go for something nice and relaxing washed down with a bottle of Powers Whiskey. I'd probably feel better after a coupla shots though, lol.

11 years ago

Great doc VICE!
In times of great turmoil such as depression, sickness, the loss of a loved one, many people are tempted to kill themself but most stay alive because they don't want to be found by their kids, family, friends.
The thought of dying in a forest, away from anyone, may make this choice easier.
A old friend of mine has said many times, if i ever get real sick, i'll walk up the woods behind my house and dissapear in the mountains. Behind his house there are miles of nothing but mountains, grizzly bears, cougars, one would ever find him.
Death is a forsure....what if we could get ready for it instead of fearing it?

11 years ago

One of the most beautiful places on earth. I would call it ironic that so many would choose to die there but, being from Oklahoma, I can't say that there is a better place to end one's life. After all, what do you hope to see on that final day if not absolute beauty? Yes, its the culture. Of course it is. Still, I get it. On those days when I find it hard to get out of bed, I look at the absolute hell about me (relatively speaking) and say, "No, this isn't the place."

11 years ago

I don't know if the choice of locations is cultural or not. Japan hasn't many wild areas to escape from societal pressures. I think that travelling to such a natural, beautiful place would be key to attempting to connect to the rhythym and flow of life. For many, the peace would be healing, and they would go back to society with a new outlook. For some, it would probably feel like a good place to discard a painful life and rejoin the universal life stream.

11 years ago

It definitely seems he is a very brave and objective man. I sure don't think I could do it. I think the despair would rub off on me very quickly.
A haunted forest; a Japanese Mirkwood...

Here amid these scenes
Of soothing earthly beauty
Is what lies for me

When he says he wonders why they would choose to kill themselves in a place like this, I honestly think that might be close to the point some of them were trying to make.

11 years ago

Strange and beautiful and sad. Had to watch through my lashes so as not to see things I didn't want to. Nothing horrible, just lonely and disquieting like a lukewarm bath in a quiet room.

11 years ago

Kind of wierd but worth watching. What a beautiful place, it would seem harder to kill yourself surrounded by such awe inspiring scenery. It must be something cultural that has inspired this phenomenon, thats my best guess any way.

11 years ago

Short and to the point. It struck me as a weird way for a geologist to make a living.
I agree with dmxi, I'm glad I haven't found my personal limit. It's sad for people that have.

11 years ago

Every Vice documentary I've ever seen has been stellar!

This is so sad, yet such a reality of our dualistic world, you can find great joy and great sadness. The middle way is where true happiness is.

11 years ago

i always have admired the courage of suiciders but pity them for the despair, that drove them to such actions.everyone has a personal limit of endurance & i'm thankful,that i haven't met mine yet !