Logan Paul, a YouTube star who gained fame and notoriety on the now-shuttered short-form video service Vine, took to Twitter to apologize on Monday night after being called out for uploading a video that prominently featured the body of an apparent suicide victim. The video was filmed in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, also known as the suicide forest, as part of Paul’s series of daily vlogs as he travels through the country doing pranks.
Uploaded with the title “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…”, the video, which has since been deleted, did feature a warning alerting viewers about the graphic content, but that didn’t stop millions from watching the video. Worst of all, a vast majority of Paul’s fan base is made up of younger kids.
Following the content warning, the video begins with Paul and his crew preparing to spend the night in the so called “suicide forest.” They say that they hope to find ghosts in the woods, but shortly after arriving, Paul and company spot a body hanging from a tree in the distance. They call out to the person, making sure that they aren’t being pranked, and then they begin to approach as their guide calls the police.
“Suicide is not a joke,” Paul says while filming the body of the victim. “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.”
Although the face of the victim was blurred out and Paul never monetized the video (which means he wouldn’t make money from ads shown before the video), he immediately faced a firestorm of criticism on social media. Fans, people who had never heard of him and even celebrities expressed their disappointment and outrage that he would exploit a suicide victim to get views on his YouTube channel. So he deleted the video and issued this apology:
In addition to the video itself being incredibly disturbing, the fact that Paul thought it was a good idea to film, edit and then upload the video in the first place is totally baffling. Mental illness and depression are both issues that everyone should feel comfortable discussing, but this is not an appropriate way to bring attention to either.