YouTuber Logan Paul is facing backlash after he posted a video that showed an apparent suicide victim over New Year's Eve weekend.
Paul, who has over 15 million subscribers, posted a disturbing video about a popular suicide spot. The video, which Paul removed from his page but can still be found other places online, starts with a warning that the footage will be graphic.
“This definitely marks a moment in YouTube history,” he says. “Because I’m pretty sure that this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever.”
"Now with that said, buckle up," he adds.
Paul then provides that backstory about Aokigahara, a forest in Japan. It has a historical reputation of being a home to ghosts of the dead in Japanese mythology, but more recently it's become a popular spot for people to commit suicide, earning it the name "suicide forest."
Though statistics vary, there were said to be up to 105 documented suicides a year. There are even signs at the head of some of the trails that urge visitors with suicidal thoughts to think of their families and call a prevention hotline.
After discussing the paranormal folklore about the forest with his guide, Paul and his team start exploring. Pretty quickly, they come across what appears to be a dead body. While the face is blurred, the rest of the body is visible.
"Yo, are you alive?" you can hear Paul shouting to the body. Paul then describes the condition of the body and speculates that the death was recent.
Usually known for his comedy videos, he apologizes to his viewers and says that suicide, depression and mental illness are not laughing matters. However, when he and his group return the parking lot, the tone of the video becomes lighter and Paul starts laughing nervously.
At the end of the video, he says his laughter and smiling are not a "portrayal" of how he feels about the circumstances, but a coping mechanism.
Paul received a lot of online criticism for posting the video.
"When my brother found my sister’s body, he screamed with horror & confusion & grief & tried to save her," actress Anna Akana wrote on Twitter. "That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness."
"I love how Logan Paul uses the excuse 'I wasn’t thinking' when he took the time to actually take the sd card out of his camera, edit the video, export the video, make a THUMBNAIL AND TITLE for the video and then upload it," another user wrote. "He had plenty of time to think. SUICIDE IS NOT A JOKE."
Can you do us all a favour and permanently remove Logan Paul from YouTube, showing someone that has Committed suicide in a video and laughing about it, is not cool
Everyone who has been effected by suicide
— Benny (@Beno_ldn) January 2, 2018
Paul posted an apology on Twitter on Monday.
“Let’s start with this – I’m sorry,” he wrote. “This is a first for me. I’ve never faced criticism like this before, because I’ve never made a mistake like this before. I’m surrounded by good people and believe I make good decisions, but I’m still a human being."
"I can be wrong. 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.”
Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 10:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango’s Facebook page. You can follow her on Instagram (@blackw00d) and Twitter (@emztweetz).