The forest is a popular place for suicides, reportedly the world’s second most popular suicide location after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. This popularity is often attributed to the 1960 novel Nami no Tō (波の塔?) by Seichō Matsumoto, which ends with two lovers committing suicide in the forest. However, the history of suicide in Aokigahara dates from before the novel’s publication, and the place has long been associated with death: ubasute was practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the ghosts of those left to die.
Since the 1950s, more than 500 people have lost their lives in the forest, mostly suicides, with an average of approximately 30 counted yearly. In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, replacing the previous record of 73 in 1998. In 2003 the rate climbed to 100, and in recent years the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara’s association with suicide. The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging those who have gone there in order to commit suicide to seek help and not kill themselves. The annual body search, consisting of a small army of police, volunteers and attendant journalists, began in 1970.
Aside from those intending to die there, the dense forest and rugged inaccessibility has attracted thrill seekers. Many of these hikers mark their routes by leaving colored plastic tapes behind, causing concerns from prefectural officials for the ecosystem of the forest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aokigahara)