I visit religious building if they have nice architecture. Even I do not mind to visit cemetery like Pere Lachaise. That is also for art and architecture.
I do not visit catacombs anymore. Out of curiosity I visited a couple of catacombs. I have stopped visiting catacombs a long time ago. I have never visited Aokigahara forest in Japan. I will never do. Life is too short to waste time visiting death and depression.
People say that it is the second most popular place for suicides in the world after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. About 100 suicides occur every year. People also say that the Aokigahara forest has became the popular place for suicides after the novel Nami no Tō (波の塔?) or “Tower of Waves” written by Seichō Matsumoto was published in 1960. In this novel, lovers commit suicide in the forest. But the Aokigahara forest was used for suicides long before the novel was published. Ubasute was practiced by poor Japanese. They used to leave their elderly relatives to the Aokigahara forest to die. During the drought and famine, ubasute was widely practiced. Remember The Ballad of Narayama! According to tradition, once a person reaches the age of 70, he or she must travel to a remote mountain to die of starvation. The Ballad of Narayama reminds me of Bengali Hindu widows! Family members send them to Varanasi, a holy place to die.
Suicide in the Aokigahara forest reminds me of farmers’ suicide in India. Indian farmers started committing mass suicide in 1990′s. More than 17,500 farmers killed themselves every year from 2002 to 2006. 16,196 farmers committed suicide in 2008. Since 1997, much more than 200,000 farmers committed suicide. The reasons of farmers’ suicide: ‘debt, the difficulty of farming semi-arid regions, poor agricultural income, absence of alternative income opportunities, the downturn in the urban economy forcing non-farmers into farming, and the absence of suitable counseling services.’
Whatever the reason is, I believe, suicide can be contagious.