Why Japan’s Suicide Forest Should Not Be Considered a Tourist Attraction

Why Japan’s Suicide Forest Should Not Be Considered a Tourist Attraction

There are some places that should just be off limits.

If you have been anywhere near the internet these past three days, you are likely to have caught a whiff of the drama that has been unfolding around Logan Paul’s controversial Youtube video. For the uninformed, an extremely influential Youtuber (think more than 15 million subscribers) filmed a video in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, more poignantly referred to as the Suicide Forest.

Although people have made videos about this place before, none have done it quite as distastefully as this; not only did he include footage of an actual deceased body hanging from a tree, but he responded to it by taunting and laughing at it. Either ways, no one is happy about his actions, and his behaviour has been unanimously condemned by both the Japanese and the international community alike.

Image credit: Guilhem Vellut

Located at the North West base of Mount Fuji, the Suicide Forest is currently the second most popular destination to commit suicide. People who have decided to take their lives enter this dense vegetation and hang themselves from trees or overdose from drugs. In 2010, 247 were reported to have attempted suicide there, with 54 of them going through with it.

This is not some old wives tale –  this is a reality and the Japanese people are trying to stop this tragedy. Volunteers leave supportive messages and signs around the forests, an attempt for a final signal boost to deter potential victims. In addition, they may even engage in patrol duties to search for such people, and provide counselling services afterwards. Suicide is no laughing matter.

This is why even though we are a travel media website that always promotes the coolest tourist destinations, we don’t think that the Suicide Forest should be one. It should not be some attraction that people traipse through to take selfies and post pretentious Instagram captions, before they quickly revert to holiday mood and take their next selfie at another well-known landmark.

We know the place is beautiful and mysterious. Not only will there be stunning nature views, but the atmosphere of intrigue adds on to the experience of the visit. It’s not like the Aokigahara forest is closed off to the public; it already is a popular tourist destination, and the Japanese authorities actively leverage on the nature-aspect to boost its reputation. It is indeed a great idea; maybe if more people frequented the area, it would become less gloomy and fewer people would commit suicide there. But this also seems like it is just wishful thinking, and people will always want to go there just to soak in the ‘creepy vibes’, and have a story to share about the dead body they saw hanging from the trees. Suicide should not be glorified, nor should it become something we are desensitized to.

Maybe we are just reading too much into it, and maybe it would really do some good if more people visited the forest and made it livelier. Maybe the silver lining to Logan Paul’s ridiculous video is that now more people know about the Suicide Forest and can try to raise more awareness about the suicide epidemic. Maybe. At the end, all we can say is that that if you do end up going to visit the Suicide Forest, do remember that the Suicide Forest is where many people have been hurt and whose families will always mourn them, and that you remain respectful in everything you think, say or do there.

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