What is Japan's 'Suicide Forest'? Inside Aokigahara Jukai

Japan's Aokigahara Jukai forest has made headlines after popular YouTuber Logan Paul posted a video of an apparent suicide.

Japan's Aokigahara Jukai forest is at the centre of a social media storm after YouTuber Logan Paul, who has 15 million subscribers, was forced to apologise for posting a video of an apparent suicide at the popular tourist spot.

The US social media influencer claimed he wanted to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention, but the move was labelled 'sickening' and condemned by many. Others even called on Paul to be banned from YouTube.

Logan Paul apologises for posting video from 'Suicide Forest'
Logan Paul apologises for posting video from 'Suicide Forest'

Aokigahara Jukai - which sits at the northwest base of the famed Mount Fuji, more than 150 kilometres southwest of capital Tokyo - is known colloquially as the 'Suicide Forest' for its high number of suicide-related deaths.

The forests notoriety has stopped local authorities from publicly releasing recent official suicide statistics.

In 2010, 247 people attempted to take their own lives in the forest, with 54 dying - but locals think these deaths are massively underreported, according to the Japan Times

Firefighters have reported finding an average of about 100 people a year who have attempted suicide in the forest. 

Aokigahara Jukai, translating roughly to Sea of Trees, gets its name from its aesthetic appeal after trees started to grow upon the dried lava following a Mt Fuji eruption.

An aerial view of the forest gives the illusion of a 'forest sea' - a jukai.

A short Vice documentary about Aokigahara Jukai takes people inside the forest, guided by local geologist Azusa Hayano who was helping to prevent suicides at the spot.

The documentary - which was released in 2010 - showed the area was littered with ropes and personal belongings as well as floral tributes for those who had died. 

As a preventative measure, authorities erected signs to discourage suicides in the area. 

"Your life is a precious gift from your parents. Please think about your parents, siblings and children. Don't keep it to yourself. Talk about your troubles," one sign read. 

At the bottom of the sign, people were prompted to call the Suicide Prevention Association's number.

According to Mr Hayano at the time, people who were unsure about taking their own lives would wrap tape around trees to help to lead them back to safety if they decided against it.

Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, with 15.4 suicides per 100,000 people in 2015, according to the World Health Organisation.

This rate is higher than the United States with 12.6 suicides per 100,000 and the United Kingdom with 7.4 suicides per 100,000 in the same year. Meanwhile, China's is 8.5 suicides per 100,000.

Despite a Japan cabinet report revealing the country had the lowest number of suicides in 22 years in 2016, it still had the sixth highest in the world, according to the Japan Times.

If you are struggling mentally contact lifeline crisis support and suicide prevention on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.