- Beachy Head (England)
The sheer cut out of land from the white cliffs of Beachy Head can give you the feeling that you are standing at the edge of the world. Sadly for many people this is not far from the truth. Many people peer over the edge, contemplating leaving this mortal world, and jumping to a crushing death.
It is estimated that around 20 people a year leap to their death from the chalky cliffs. This puts the death toll on par with Niagara Falls, and considering the difference in visitation and population this is striking. The sirens of the sea seemingly sing songs to seduce the sailors of death.
Many volunteers comb the beach for potential jumpers, trying to convince people their lives are worth living, reminiscent of this song by The Streets:
- Niagara Falls (Canada – United Stated)
The most well-known waterfall in the world is also the world’s third most popular suicide hotspot. An average of 20 – 30 bodies are recovered each year from the falls. However the true number will never be known, as some bodies are never recovered, vanishing into a crescendo of waves.
Ironically Niagara Falls is a symbol of love being a popular honeymoon vacation for newlyweds. Around 12 million people flock to the natural beauty each year in awe of its magnificence. It is also the setting for the classic film Niagara, starring the most iconic beauty of all cinema Marilyn Munroe.
It is a wonder how this much beauty can inspire death but, to many depressed people, death is a beautiful escape. A 165ft drop into a final watery resting place.
- Mount Mihara (Japan)
Despite a recent decline in suicide rates Japan has historically been a nation of high levels of suicide. Last year 21,897 people took their own lives in the country, making the rate the sixth highest in the world. This has declined from recent years of thirty plus thousand, but this still makes them the second worst of all the major industrialized nations. (Otake, T 2017).
The honour system has failed many Japanese citizens. The need to appear conservative, hardworking and honourable has given rise to an overworked, secretive and isolated nation. Japan has its own word (Karoshi) for working yourself to death. This culture of overworking for honour is undoubtedly putting a strain on the populace. The conservative mask of Japan has also given rise to disturbing sub fetishes such as:
- Enjo Kosai – A practice were old men will pay to date young girls, often schoolgirls. This is a reflection of the highly sexualised nature of adolescent schools girls in anime and the shockingly low age of consent.
- Sex robots and voyeurism – Japanese culture has an obsession with sex robots and voyeurism, which is obviously induced by a socially isolated sexually inhibited country.
Now on to Mount Mihara Japans suicide volcano, were people jump to a burning lava lavished death. In 1933 a love stricken young Japanese girl jumped into a volcano in shame at her homosexual desires. She wrote this letter to her love interest, Masako Tomita:
“Dearest, I am bewildered to distraction by the perplexities of maturing womanhood. I can stand the strain no longer. What shall I do? I should like to jump into a volcano.” (Providentia 2016).
This sparked a boost of suicides in the already notorious spot, reaching a peak of 944 that same year. This also caused a spate of highly romanticised suicide pacts, of couples wanting to reach into the abys together.
The active volcano is one of the few glorious spots of insight into the inner workings of the world. This eye into the extreme force of nature has become the final fiery resting place for thousands.
- Eiffel Tower (France)
Touropia lists the Effiel tower as the most famous tower in the world, and it is hard to disagree. The megastructure was once the tallest building in the world and is the most visited paid tourist spot on the globe. An estimated seven million people visit the monument each year.
Since opening in 1889 there have been 349 suicides from the Effiel tower (Condrant, S 2009). As you can imagine the very public nature of France’s top attraction has led to some shockingly visible deaths:
- Aokigahara Forest/ Suicide Forest
It is perhaps not surprising that Japan has a second location on the list. Japan has a long and storied history of suicide. Much of ancient and not so ancient Japanese culture focuses on the honour of suicide. Indeed many people will be aware of the Japanese Samurai warriors, and their process of suicide to restore honour.
Seppuku or hara-kiri was a particularly slow/painful death which was said to highlight courage, resolve and self-control in accordance with the Bushido code. Mainly performed by defeated warriors, the process involved stabbing yourself with a short sword in the stomach, and ripping it across the body. This practice was replicated by fallen Japanese officers in world war two.
Speaking of which comes the second wave of Japanese warrior suicides. The Kamikaze or ‘Devine wind’ were Japanese fighter pilots of world war two. They would willingly fly their planes straight into allied naval ships. Again this was said to be an honourable death, and those that did not sign up were ridiculed as cowards.
Now on to Aokigahara Forest, popularly known as the suicide forest. The forest gets its name by becoming the world’s second most popular destination for suicide. Since an all-time high of 108 suicides in 2004, suicide rates are no longer reported (Keefe, A 2017). However suicides remain high, prompting suicide intervention scouts to wander the park.
The beautifully dark forest sits at the base of one of the natural wonders of the world – Mount Fuji. The forest was formed on top of volcanic rock deforming the foundations of any trees and plantation that grows there. Nicknamed ‘The sea of tree’s’ the woodland is very dense and tangled in waves of twisted trees. Unsurprisingly in this inhospitable environment there are very few signs of animal life. The eerie silence of the land and its incredibly disturbing history, leads many to believe the place is haunted. The forest is littered with anti-suicide signs, peoples lost possessions, guide ropes, abandoned tents and often skeletons and corpses.
Suicide Forest History:
Ubasute ‘abandoning an old women’ is exactly what it sounds like. In times of hardship or famine, the least productive members of a family – usually an older woman, would be selected or volunteer to be sacrificed. She would then be carried into the woods and left to die alone of starvation, exposure or thirst. And what is the most famous location of this supposed death ritual? Aokigahara Forest.
Suicide novels. Nami No Tou or Tower of waves by Matsumoto Seichou (1960) is tale about a man and woman desperately in love despite the woman being married to someone else. Amidst the exposure of the affair and the public shaming by an honour riddled society, the couple decide on a suicide pact. However the stories heroine Yoriko decides to do this alone instead of facing the heartbreak of seeing her lover die. She chooses the suicide forest as a place of beauty and tranquillity.
The Complete Manual of Suicide, by Wataru Tsurumi also states that Aokigahara Forest is the perfect place to die. Since the inception of these books the suicide rate has risen. The most preferred method is by hanging followed by poisoning. Often following a guide rope will lead to the discovery of a hanging body or a rotting poisoned corpse in a tent.