Today I wanted to discuss something I learned about yesterday. First, I want to give some context.
The Suicide Forest or Aokigahara at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan is a forest where many people go to contemplate taking their own lives or to actually follow through on their plans. Every year, dozens of Japanese people go into the forest, stray of the paths, walk as deep into the forest as they feel appropriate, and take their own life, usually by hanging or overdosing. It is a well-known issue that authorities are fully aware of. The paths are lined with messages to people to please consider their loved ones before taking their own lives, and there are even strings and ribbons leading out of the forest back to the paths for people who may have changed their minds.
Volunteers regularly comb through the forest looking for the remains of people who committed suicide or to find people contemplating it and talk to them, trying to talk them out of committing suicide. Authorities do their best to find the bodies, identify them, and return them to their families. Despite these efforts, countless remains are undiscovered to this day and any walk in the forest may lead to you finding corpses of those who went there and committed suicide. The forest floors are also littered with things left behind, shoes, wallets, ropes used in the suicide, or even with offerings left by mourning family members who lost someone to suicide in that forest.
In terms of numbers, in 2010 police reports state that over 200 people attempted suicide in the forest 54 of which succeeded. And the record of the number of recovered bodies is 105 in 2003. A lot, A LOT of people go there to take their own lives because they have become so mentally exhausted and battered by life that they honestly can not see a way out anymore. For those who have never been suicidal, it is not a good place to be. Japan is a society where an extreme emphasis is being placed on being successful in their job, on doing everything to get promoted and earn higher wages to support one’s family.
Children are being pushed to study hard and constantly to succeed in their exams or be a failure, adults continue this in their jobs, etc. Overworking is a sign of dedication to their jobs, and it is standard practice for many. It is so bad that there is a word in Japanese for literally working yourself to death, karōshi (overwork death). That’s right, people push themselves so hard they get so exhausted from lack of sleep, insufficient diets, stress, etc., that some literally get a heart attack or stroke and die from overworking.
And among those who don’t have karōshi happen to them, many are so physically and mentally exhausted, many will go to Aokigahara to at least contemplate taking their own life. It should come as no surprise, also, that the number of suicides skyrockets in times of economic crisis with people losing their jobs and becoming unable to support their families, becoming “failures” in the eyes of society, all of which adds to the mental health problems that have developed through overworking and lack of relaxing and bonding with their families.
Now, to finally come to the main topic of this post. There is a YouTuber called Logan Paul, I don’t know this person, never heard of him before this. This guy is a rich, white, American guy who apparently has a knack for getting ideas and just doing them without thinking about them at all or whether it is appropriate or even smart to do. He decided it would be “fun” to visit this “spooky” forest in Japan for shitz ‘n gigglez and make a video about it to upload to his YouTube channel. He made a video in this hallowed place for no other reason than getting views and likes and comments on his YouTube channel, to make money. This hallowed place where so many people took their own lives after suffering so much mental anguish and pain that they saw no way out but to kill themselves. And he just went there, filming as he made jokes laughed at some companion tripping over things, etc.
And what do you know, in this forest known for being a place were dozens of people every year kill themselves, they actually come across a corpse. And this Logan Paul just keeps filming and being excited because it is the first time he has seen the corpse of a human. This was a real, actual person who was in such anguish and pain that he took his own life, and this rich, spoiled, brat just comes over and oohs and wows over his remains. Instead of turning the camera off and going to the authorities to report the body.
He then uploaded the video to his channel. It has since been taken down by him as the backlash started hitting him. He has apologised, didn’t mean to offend anyone, but you just know it is not genuine. That he’s just saying sorry now until the next big thing comes and this gets forgotten.
All of his actions speak to an alarming degree of disrespect towards the Dead. Respect for the Dead is one of the most basic values of humankind. Found across cultures and religious traditions, even to people who do not subscribe to any religion it comes naturally. Humans instinctually respect the Dead. Regardless of one’s religious views, the amount of disrespect this Logan Paul has shown should be absolutely revolting. He went right into this hallowed forest, that is no doubt filled with countless Dead in pain and anguish, potentially vengeful towards the Living, and acted in such a disgraceful and disrespectful way that it boggles the mind.
Have respect for the Dead people, and teach others to do the same. If this is where society is going, it is not going someplace good…
If you are feeling suicidal, please seek professional help. If your country has suicide hotlines or other mental health support, please contact them. Let them help you get through this.
εὖ ἔχε. Be well.