YouTube Star Logan Paul Apologizes for Video of Suicide Victim
YouTube star Logan Paul has already found himself in hot water only two days into 2018 after the web comedian and viral video-creator posted some footage of an apparent suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest.
On Monday, Paul removed a video—titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest”—from Google-owned YouTube less than 24 hours after uploading it in the wake of an online backlash over footage that included a zoomed-in shot of a blurred-out dead body in a forest that is infamous for its supposed high rate of suicides. Despite being online for less than a day, the video reportedly received more than six million views for Paul, an extremely popular YouTube “creator” who has more than 15 million followers.
Paul posted an apology on Twitter last night after removing the controversial video, saying he is “sorry” and that he’s “never made a mistake like this before.” In the message, Paul also asserted that the video was not an ill-advised attempt at going viral and that he had hoped to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.” Japan is among the countries with the highest rates of suicide in the world.
“I didn’t do it for views,” Paul said on Twitter. “I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity.”
The controversial video reportedly featured Paul (wearing a bright green Toy Story hat) and a group of other YouTube vloggers touring the Japanese forest with a guide before happening upon the dead body of what appeared to be a suicide victim. When one of his companions in the video says he “doesn’t feel good” after seeing the body, Paul can be seen asking “What, you never stand next to a dead guy?” before laughing.
Paul received quite a bit of criticism online for posting the video in question, with critics bashing the YouTube star for posting the video (including some calls to ban him from YouTube) while also taking issue with his claim that he was looking to raise mental health awareness.
Other YouTube video creators have also come under fire in the past, including Paul’s younger brother, Jake Paul, who lost his job on a Disney Channel television show following reports that he was causing chaos in his West Hollywood neighborhood. And Disney also cut ties with the Swedish vlogger PewDiePie, one of YouTube’s highest-paid stars, after he used a racial slur in a video posted earlier this year and had previously posted anti-semitic content.
Fortune contacted YouTube for comment and a spokesperson for the site confirmed that Paul’s video violated YouTube’s policies banning shocking and sensational graphic content. “Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video,” the site said in its statement. “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.”
On Tuesday, Paul issued a second apology, this time posting a video on Twitter in which he said he “should have never posted the video” showing the body in Aokigahara forest. “I want to apologize to anyone who has seen the video. I want to apologize to anyone who has been affected or touched by mental illness or depression or suicide. But, most importantly, l want to apologize to the victim and his family,” Paul said in the apology video.