A popular YouTube personality apologized for posting a video that showed him making jokes after discovering the body of a suicide victim hanging from a tree in Japan’s “suicide forest.”
Who is he?
Logan Paul, 22, has more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube. He is self-described as a “kid in Hollywood making crazy daily Vlogs!”
The comedic-style videos don’t appear to have any unifying theme besides a desperation to go viral, ranging from “FISHING FOR MY DOG WITH DRONE BAIT!!!” to “JUMPING TWO SPEEDING LAMBORGHINIS BACK TO BACK!”
What did he do?
While visiting Japan, Paul and some friends went to the Aokigahara Forest, also known as a “suicide forest” because it has become known as a destination for people to take their own lives.
According to a 2012 New York Times article, the Aokigahara Forest is thought to be the second most likely suicide location in the world, behind the Golden Gate Bridge.
While in the forest shooting a video about the alleged haunted or paranormal nature of the location, they found the corpse of a young man hanging from a tree.
Despite initially reacting with shock and calling the authorities, by the end of the video Paul is laughing and joking with others in the group about the situation.
“This definitely marks a moment in YouTube history,” Paul said in the video. “Because I’m pretty sure that this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever.”
Because Paul is so popular, outrage about his video from those who felt he was making jokes about suicide came swiftly.
YouTube took the video down, saying it violated the company’s policies against “violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner.”
“Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video,” a YouTube statement read.
Here is Paul’s apology, in which he tries to convince people that the whole thing was about suicide prevention and awareness:
Dear Internet, https://t.co/42OCDBhiWg— Logan Paul (@Logan Paul) 1514862056.0
This writer's perspective
To adults, the things people like Logan Paul do for views on YouTube just seem like irrelevant internet trash. But that's because much of Paul's audience of more than 15 million includes children and teenagers.
So when he decides to broadcast a man who committed suicide by hanging himself in a tree, he's exposing thousands, and potentially millions of young viewers to something they should never see.
In his lame apology, he still can't help but brag about his views and tell us how hard it is to make a "15 minute TV show" every day, and how easy it is to get caught up in a moment.
But if stumbling across a young person whose circumstances drove him to end his life alone in a forest doesn't snap you out of viral internet mode, you've probably lost all touch with reality.