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Gatekeeper at Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest’ hopes music can save livesThis photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing.
The forest, known as Aokigahara, made global headlines last year when YouTube star Logan Paul filmed an episode of his online series there, showing a suicide victim at the site.
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The footage sparked outrage and infuriated Watanabe, who was born nearby and has spent most of his life in and around the forest.
It’s a forest of nature. It’s a forest of religion. It’s not that kind of place,” he said.”Do people want to make this forest a hell?” he said, calling it “so painful” to see the woods depicted in such a grim fashion.
It is a foreboding place, thickly planted with tall trees that block out the sun, and carpeted with moss and gnarled roots.
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The association eventually became strong enough that suicidal people began travelling to the forest to die.
Authorities no longer give official figures for suicides in the forest, but at one time dozens of people were dying there each year.
Japan has the highest suicide rate of any Group of Seven industrialised nation, with more than 20,000 people taking their own lives annually.
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Nearly half of those who killed themselves in the region were from elsewhere, suggesting they had expressly travelled to the area to commit suicide.