YouTuber Logan Paul is being criticized for both shooting and publishing footage of a suicide victim who took his own life within the Aokigahara forest in Japan. Also known as the Japanese Suicide Forest, the land has been known to be the place where roughly 100 people commit suicide each year, according to local authorities, either by hanging or drug overdoses. In Paul’s case, a victim had hung himself.
In the vlog, Paul and his friends intend to camp within the Aokigahara forest for a night with the necessary supplies to do so. After walking along the main trail for a few minutes, the group heads off into the forest where Paul is the first to point out there may be a dead body hanging from a tree in the distance. “Um, I really hate to say this,” he says, “but I think there’s someone hanging right there.”
Immediately, the video cuts to footage of the victim. His bag and other items are found around him. Paul’s tour guide contacts local police, multiple reactions to the scene are shown, and Paul then shouts out, “Yo, are you alive, are you f***ing with us?” Unfortunately, the person wasn’t.
In the beginning of the video, Paul gives an introduction about how this is his most real vlog ever and how he chose not to monitize the video “for obvious reasons.” He also offers a message about how mental health should be taken seriously. This same message extends to the middle and end of the video. “Suicide is not a joke,” he said. “Depression and mental illnesses are not a joke. We came here with an intent to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest. This just became very real.”
The way Paul handled this situation, however, is what is receiving backlash from both fans of his and members of the entertainment industry. In the video, Paul and his friends are seen laughing while speaking of the events and dealing with being in the presence of a dead body. This mixed with the fact he exploited a suicide victim on the internet is what’s sparking reactions from some pretty big names on the web, including well-known actor Aaron Paul.
How dare you! You disgust me. I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you. So sad. Hopefully this latest video woke them up. You are pure trash. Plain and simple. Suicide is not a joke. Go rot in hell.
— Aaron Paul (@aaronpaul_8) January 2, 2018
I’m hoping that video is “just a prank bro” — which would be EVEN WORSE.
There is just no possible way anyone who witnessed that in person could laugh, or make jokes, let alone FILM IT.
I’m beyond disturbed and I’m an adult. No child should be subjected to that, real or not.
— Justine Ezarik 🎉 (@ijustine) January 2, 2018
As somebody who lives in Japan, has Japanese family and has filmed a video in the suicide forest, the amount of disrespect Logan Paul showed in his video is honestly sickening.
No amount of demonetizing or “like if you feel sad” can excuse what he did.
Really disappointing 😦
— Joey (@TheAn1meMan) January 2, 2018
Paul believes he’s “making YouTube history” by vlogging the body of a young person who died by suicide. You’re not Neil Armstrong bro, it’s simply a thing no one else has been tacky enough to do outside rotten. com circa 2000.
— Caitlin Doughty (@TheGoodDeath) January 2, 2018
Just remember this. Before all the extended community outrage against Logan Paul’s “we found a dead body” video, there was a seemingly uncontested 550-600,000 likes on it.
His core audience doesn’t give a fuuuuuuck. Unless youtube does something, this doesn’t hurt him.
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) January 2, 2018
Logan (and his team) already decided to make a lighthearted video about a “haunted” forest. A place people commit suicide. Discovering a victim was not an unfortunate accident. It simply exemplified and exposed how disgusting and exploitative the plan was in the first place.
— Luke Cutforth 🌊✨ (@LukeIsNotSexy) January 2, 2018
Logan Paul took his video down @youtube but the damage has been done. Ur platform let someone whose audience is children – get scarred by someone they “look up to” showing a suicide victim’s body & making jokes. This is wrong & his channel should be shut down. This is deplorable. https://t.co/n5nE1IStEg
— Kandee Johnson (@kandeejohnson) January 2, 2018
My 9 year old brother just ran into my room hyperventilating and crying because he watched Logan Paul’s video. I’m disgusted
— Love, Madi (@ThinkinTortoise) January 2, 2018
On Twitter, Paul wrote an apology, writing “I didn’t do it for views. I get views.”
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 cuase a monsoon of negativity. That’s never the intention. I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention and while I thought “if video saves just ONE life, it’ll be worth it,” I was misguided by shock and awe, as portrayed in the video. I still am.
He continued to say how he understands the reach he has on the internet and how he handled his “power” incorrectly.
I’m often reminded of how big of a reach I truly have & 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.
Paul has since taken down the video.
Dear Internet, pic.twitter.com/42OCDBhiWg
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
Right now, it remains unclear if legal consequences from YouTube will step into effect or not as we haven’t seen any proof of these motions. Many are calling for Paul’s channel to be banned or for him to donate all of his 2018 earnings from the video sharing platform to a suicide prevention organization. If new information hits our desk, we’ll let you know.
Suicide touches everyone in some way, shape, or form. If you or someone you know are contemplating it, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat online here.