March 20, 2009

Japan's Suicide Forest

Aokigahara Forest is known for two things in Japan: breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and suicides. Also called the Sea of Trees, this destination for the desperate is a place where the suicidal disappear, often never to be found in the dense forest.

Japan's Aokigahara Forest is known as the "suicide forest" because people often go there to take their own lives.

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.

He lost financial control, which he believes to be the foundation of any stable life, he said. "You need money to survive. If you have a girlfriend, you need money. If you want to get married, you need it for your life. Money is always necessary for your life."  Watch Taro describe why he wanted to die in "suicide forest" »

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.

Taro's story is just one of hundreds logged at Aokigahara Forest every year, a place known throughout Japan as the "suicide forest." The area is home to the highest number of suicides in the entire country.

Japan's suicide rate, already one of the world's highest, has increased with the recent economic downturn.

Desperate Japanese head to 'suicide forest'

Posted by Jill Fallon at March 20, 2009 9:05 PM | Permalink