What is Japan’s “Suicide Forest”?

After the recent — and justified — outrage over a video from YouTuber Logan Paul that featured a victim of suicide in Aokigahara forest, many might be wondering what, exactly, is Japan’s “Suicide Forest.” Often referred to as “the perfect place to die,” Aokigahara forest is located at the northwest base of Mount Fuji and is approximately two hours away from Japan’s capital, Tokyo.

The woods are filled with dense trees and sit on an area of 30 square kilometers of hardened lava laid down by the last major volcano eruption in 864 AD.

It has become one of the most popular spots for suicide in the world, coming in second to the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, there have been so many suicides in the area that the forest’s hiking trails are filled with signs urging those with suicidal thoughts to consider their families and seek help.

“Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Think about them and the rest of your family. You don’t have to suffer alone,” one forest sign allegedly reads. There are also phone boxes in the area for people to connect to suicide helplines for free.

Statistics on Aokigahara’s suicide rates vary due to the fact that some victims go undiscovered. However, about 70 bodies are found by volunteers who clean the woods every year. In 2003, as many as 105 bodies were found in the forest. Death by hanging is the most common method of suicide in the forest, but death by drug overdose is commonly seen as well. Many even bring tents into the forest and camp for days, debating their fate.

But not everyone goes to Aokigahara forest for this purpose. Tourists visit to see the enchanting Narusawa Ice Cave, as well as to experience the quiet of the woods. Some are also attracted to the eeriness of the forest and its now-infamous legacy.

If you or anyone you know is dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can reach The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. You are absolutely not alone.