In 2010, there were 247 suicide attempts in Aokigahara, of which 54 were found to be fatal.
In the open paths of this forest, you find posters in which you invite, through inspirational phrases, to potential suicide bombers, to reconsider their intention to take their own lives.
They are written in Japanese, with white signs on a brown background and may contain messages such as: “Your life is a valuable gift from your parents. … Do not keep it. Share your problems. Please, seek help and do not go through this place alone” and the phone number of the Suicide Prevention Association is indicated on the poster.
Even so, there are people to whom these messages are not enough to reconsider their decision.
Aokigahara last destination
Those who visit the place with the intention of taking their own lives, go into the forest, through unmarked paths, to abandon themselves and lose themselves.
In some hidden place in the Suicide Forest, they give up their lives and, either by ingesting drugs or toxic substances or by hanging, empty their lives.
The reasons that lead them to end their own lives, seem to have no relation to the practice of seppuku or hara-kiri or suicide for honor but, would be referred to heartbreak, financial failure, loneliness, …
According to Japanese mythology, those who kill themselves and do not receive a proper funeral ceremony, are transformed into yūrei (幽霊), which could be translated as “lost souls”.
Suicide Forest, recovery of bodies
Every so often, the police, accompanied by volunteers from the area, organize raids to search for human remains. The degree of decomposition of the dead bodies that are usually found is diverse, depending on the time elapsed since the commission of suicide.
Rescuers go into the forest and, if they find a body, they remove it from the forest and transfer it to the police station.
At the local police station, there is a room, with two beds. In it, they deposit the body, lifeless, rescued from Aokigahara in one of the lounge chairs.
The members of the search party, play jan-ken-po (じゃんけん), meaning, “rock, paper, scissors” to draw a last task. Those who lose the game must accompany the body during the night.
The reason for this last mission is to prevent the body from remaining alone, for the yūrei to start shouting and the dead body to return to its previous original abode in the Suicide Forest.
Dead Bodies of Aokigahara and manga
In Japanese popular culture, more specifically in the manga, there are stories of stories related to the bodies of the Suicide Forest. For example:
- Los Kurosagi entrega de cadáveres, where five young people who form the group of the Kurosagi, put their unique skills at the service of the bodies so that their last wishes are fulfilled. In chapter 1, they find a recent dead body in Aokigahara who wants to meet his girlfriend.
- Tokio Ghoul, (about the “gules”, which feed on bodies) wherein the Café Anteiku dead bodies are used, coming from Aokigahara, to feed the gules and thus prevent them from killing the humans.
In the cinematography, there are also more explicit examples of this aspect of the Suicide Forest, but we will see this later.