YouTube star Logan Paul has apologized after facing an avalanche of criticism for sharing the image of a suicide victim.
He posted the macabre clip filmed on location in Japan’s Aokigahara, also known as the “suicide forest” due to the high number of suicides that take place within the woods.
The controversy is the latest backlash to hit a YouTube star for inappropriate content. Last February, Disney’s Maker Studios severed ties with YouTube star PewDiePie, aka Felix Kjellberg, after he released a series of anti-Semitic posts to his 53 million subscribers. Paul’s brother Jake was fired by the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark following a public nuisance incident.
“Let’s start with this — I’m sorry,” Paul explained in a follow-up post to his 3.9 million Twitter followers. “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.”
He continued, “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…I’m often reminded of how big of 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.”
After apologizing to viewers and those affected by depression, mental illness or suicide, the vlogger expressed his sorrow for the victim’s family, saying “Most importantly, I want to apologize to the victim and his family.” Paul also informed his fans that his actions should not be defended. “I’m ashamed of myself. I’m disappointed in myself and I promise to be better. I will be better,” Paul said in the video message.
Dear Internet, pic.twitter.com/42OCDBhiWg
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
A YouTube spokeswoman responded to the video on Tuesday morning with a statement that reads, “Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video.” The statement continues with information about YouTube’s policy regarding graphic content: “YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner. If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases it will be age-gated. We partner with safety groups such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide educational resources that are incorporated in our YouTube Safety Center.”
In the now-removed vlog, Paul and several companions stumble upon what appears to be the hanging body of man. The 22-year-old Paul appears to linger at the grim scene as he shares his thoughts on finding a corpse. “Did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest, hanging?” he says. In another sequence, Paul notes the situation was “a first for me” and that it was “most real vlog I’ve made.”
Later, he attempts to drive home the severity of the situation. “Suicide is not a joke,” he comments, adding, “We came here with an intent to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest. This just became very real.”
On Tuesday, the vlogger posted a video message on his Twitter, once again apologizing for the controversial video. “I don’t expect to be forgiven. I’m simply here to apologize,” Paul said, visibly emotionally. “I should’ve never posted the video. I should’ve put the cameras down… There’s a lot of things I should’ve done differently, but I didn’t and for that, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.”
After apologizing to viewers and those whom have been affected by depression, mental illness or suicide, the vlogger also apologized to the victim and their family. Paul also directed a message toward his fans, informing them that his actions should not be defended. “I’m ashamed of myself. I’m disappointed in myself and I promise to be better. I will be better,” Paul said in the video message.
So sorry. pic.twitter.com/JkYXzYsrLX
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
The vlogger’s name is trending on social media as internet users condemn his video as tasteless and offensive. One Twitter user, Laci Green, wrote, “Exploiting a suicide victim in Japan to the tune of 6M+ views while youtube demonetizes students protesting in Iran is a perfect example of what a sociopathic garbage fire youtube has become. this industry has no soul left.” Another, Meg Turney, wrote, “All eyes on you, YouTube. What Logan Paul did was unacceptable and deserves decisive action. There is no place on YouTube for that kind of content.”
Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul — no relation to Logan or brother Jake — was one of the Hollywood names to quickly lash out on Twitter.
“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.”
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