YouTube star Logan Paul apologized for posting a video that included footage of a man who had committed suicide in a Japanese forest.
The clip quickly got over six million views. Many accused Paul of glorifying and exploiting suicide. In a statement posted on Twitter, Paul said, “I didn’t do it for views. I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity. That’s never the intention. I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention and while I thought ‘if this video saves just ONE life, it’ll be worth it,’ I was misguided by shock and awe.”
The 15-minute clip was intended to be part of a series documenting Paul’s trip to Japan, and was uploaded with the title, “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” While the video has since been removed from YouTube, New York detailed the beats of the clip, in which Paul and his friends traveled to the Aokigahara Forest, near Mount Fuji. Aokigahara is known as the “suicide forest,” as it has been the site of hundreds of suicides, and in the video Paul and his friends discover what seems to be a body hanging from a tree.
While the person’s face was blurred, the clip reportedly featured extensive footage of the body as Paul processed his emotions. “So, a lot of things are going through my mind,” he said. “This is a first for me … His hands are purple. He did this this morning.”
Later, Paul turned the camera on himself, apologizing to his fans, saying “this was supposed to be a fun vlog.” He added, “Suicide is not a joke. Depression and mental illness are not a joke. We came here with an intent to focus on the ‘haunted’ aspect of the forest. This obviously just became very real, and obviously a lotta people are going through a lotta shit in their lives.”
Upon uploading the clip, Paul claimed he wasn’t going try to make any money off of it, and he included information about the American Society for Suicide Prevention in the description. Other members of Paul’s entourage also uploaded their own versions of the video, which have also been removed.
In his Twitter apology, Paul continued: “I do this shit every day. I’ve made a 15-minute TV show EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past 460+ days. One may understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications. I’m often reminded of how big a reach I truly have and with great power comes great responsibility… for the first time in my life I’m regretful to say I handled that power incorrectly. It won’t happen again.”