Internet-celebrity Logan Paul drew widespread condemnation from the Internet Monday night after the popular YouTube star posted a video showing an apparent suicide victim in Japan’s “suicide forest.”
The video, which has since been pulled from Paul’s official YouTube channel though has been re-uploaded by other users on the service, featured Paul and several friends “vlogging” a recent trip to Japan. In an intro to the video — titled “We saw a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest” — Paul says: “this is not clickbait. This is the most real vlog I have ever posted on this channel.”
He then warns viewers that the video is graphic and remarks that he thinks it is “a moment in YouTube history because I’m pretty sure this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever.”
The video continues with Paul and his crew arriving to go camping at the forest, officially known as Aokigahara.
After the group enters the forest and ventures off the trail they happen upon an apparent suicide victim hanging from a tree. Paul and company then decide to venture closer to the body, filming their reactions along the way. The video shows several close-ups of the victim’s body, though the victim’s face is blurred.
YouTube-parent Google did not immediately respond to a request Monday night for comment on the video or if Paul was in violation of the site’s terms of service.
“Suicide is not a joke,” Paul says in the video. “Depression and mental illnesses are not a joke. We came here with an intent to focus on the ‘haunted’ aspect of the forest.”
Paul and his friends then continue filming their video, saying that suicide is “not the answer” before Paul is filmed jokingly replying to an off-camera, apparently distraught friend saying “what, you’ve never seen a dead guy before?”
According to New York magazine, which saw the original video before it was pulled, the video garnered over 6 million views in the 24 hours since it was published. The original video also apparently included information for the American Society for Suicide Prevention.
Paul ends the video in a stairwell, once again saying that “suicide is not the answer,” and that “being depressed is fine. What’s not okay is when you don’t seek help or talk to people. Don’t feel like you have to hide your feelings. Stay strong, whatever it is you’re going through.”
Paul became a trending topic on Twitter late Monday night, with celebrities and other YouTubers joining others on the Internet criticizing him for even posting the video that jokes about suicide.
Paul, 22, rose to internet fame using the now-defunct video sharing service Vine. He has since transitioned to making videos on YouTube, where he is one of the site’s biggest stars with over 15 million subscribers to go along with his over 3.9 million followers on Twitter.
Paul’s videos, often of various pranks and outrageous stunts, frequently get several million views from his “Logang” fanbase.
In an apology posted to his Twitter account late Monday, Paul said that he “never faced criticism like this before and didn’t post the video “for views.” Instead, the note continues, Paul says he wanted to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.”
Paul closes the apology by saying that in posting videos as often as he does it is “easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications,” a sentiment that the Internet was not buying.
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