YouTuber Logan Paul has apologised for uploading a video in which he appeared to discover the body of a man who died by suicide.
In the now-removed vlog, Paul, 22, can be seen walking into the Japan’s Aokigahara forest with several companions. While wearing a Toy Story alien hat, Paul giddily explained its significance: Aokigahara is known as the ‘Suicide Forest‘, due to a tragically high number of suicides that occur within the woods.
After explaining his plan to camp there overnight to investigate whether the region is “haunted”, Paul pointed at a figure just off the walking trail. The figure was revealed as a man who appeared to have hung himself. The camera captured his purple hands. The man’s face was blurred.
“Bro, did we just find a dead person in the Suicide Forest?” Paul asked. A local guide confirmed “it could be” real.
“I’m so sorry about this LoGang, this was supposed to be a fun vlog,” Paul said, adding “suicide is not a joke, depression and mental illnesses are not a joke.”
The lime green hat remained on his head the entire time.
“It was gonna be a joke,” Paul said. “This was all gonna be a joke. Why did it become so real?”
Several minutes later, a fire truck could be seen in a nearby carpark, accompanied by responders carrying a stretcher into the forest. Upon seeing children in the carpark, Paul asked what would have happened if they were the ones to come across the body.
After urging his viewers to seek help if they are struggling with mental illness, Paul asked “is it bad if I do the ‘subscribe’? Maybe.”
“This is why I do it, so people can live the journey with me,” Paul told his 15-million strong subscriber base. “If you’re not part of the LoGang, make sure to subscribe. Tomorrow’s vlog, I promise you, will be a lot happier than this.”
While the start of the video bore a disclaimer, and links to mental health resources were included in the video’s description, the negative response to the video was swift. Other high profile YouTubers heavily criticised one of the platform’s most popular figures for his wildly insensitive behaviour.
Image this: Logan Paul trying to frame up a dangling corpse in the background of a photograph for his thumbnail. Just a little to the left….— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) January 2, 2018
Logan Paul actually recorded a person who committed suicide in his vlog. What kind of fucked up mentality do you need to have to do something like that?! There is absolutely no defending it— Jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) January 2, 2018
that logan paul video where he films the body of a person who committed suicide that same day is deadass the worst most un-self aware shit i ever seen in my life— nathan zed ???? (@NathanZed) January 2, 2018
Even PewDiePie, the former YouTube megastar whose own fall from grace was spurred by the use of racial slurs on camera, criticised Paul’s behaviour.
Logan Paul goes to ''suicide forest'':— pewdiepie ???? (@pewdiepie) January 2, 2018
WoAH wE f0UNd ded GuY here!!!!!
lEMme jUsT zOom in oN tHis F0r tHe Vl0g
OK guYs seRiousLy , lEAve a like if yur sad to0..
Those sentiments were broadly echoed by members of Paul’s fanbase.
However, Paul has now issued an apology via Twitter, saying “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 activity.”
“One may understand it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications.”
Dear Internet, pic.twitter.com/42OCDBhiWg— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
Logan Paul and his brother Jake have become two of YouTube’s most bankable young stars, netting hundreds of thousands of dollars from ad revenue and sponsorships.
It is not yet clear if any brands eager to reach his impressionable young audience have chosen to cut professional ties.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental illness, there are resources you can turn to including BeyondBlue (1300 22 4636), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) and Lifeline (13 11 14).