In the wake of a public outcry from celebrities and fellow YouTube personalities, vlogger Logan Paul issued an apology after posting a controversial video set in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, known as the country’s “suicide forest,” that featured an apparent suicide victim.
“Where do I begin… Let’s start with this – I’m sorry,” Paul wrote in a statement posted to social media. “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,” he continued. “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,’ I was misguided by shock and awe, as portrayed in the video. I still am.”
In the now deleted video, which was titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…,” Paul and his friends attempt to camp out in the Aokigahara forest, where they find an apparent body hanging from a tree. They proceed to film the body and call out to it.
“This is a first for me,” Paul said in the video after finding the body. “Suicide is not a joke. Depression and mental illnesses are not a joke. We came here to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest, this just became very real. A lot of people are going through a lot of sh– in their lives.”
“This was all going to be a joke,” he said later in the video. “Why did it become so real?”
With messages posted at the beginning and end of the video, he also urged those with mental health problems to seek help.
“Tomorrow’s vlog will be the craziest and most real video I’ve ever uploaded,” Paul had tweeted ahead of the video’s release.
Portions of the video have since been reposted across YouTube as the backlash continued to brew.
“How dare you! You disgust me,” The Path actor Aaron Paul (no relation) tweeted to Paul. “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.”
Game of Thrones and X-Men: Dark Phoenix star Sophie Turner retweeted a user sharing numbers for suicide prevention hotlines and replied directly to Logan Paul online: “You’re an idiot. You’re not raising awareness. You’re mocking. I can’t believe how self-praising your ‘apology’ is. You don’t deserve the success (views) you have. I pray to God you never have to experience anything like that man did.”
YouTube personality Lilly Singh tweeted a less direct response to Paul’s video.
“Imagine if everyone who had power and massive influence used it for good?” she wrote. “Please don’t let @youtube views alter your values and morals. Common sense over ad sense. Stay woke. Spread love. Encourage growth.”
In addition to his YouTube channel, Paul also appeared in the film The Space Between Us and YouTube Red’s The Thinning.
“I’m often reminded of how big of a reach I truly have & with great power comes great responsibility,” Paul wrote, “for the first time in my life I’m regretful to say I handled that power incorrectly. It won’t happen again.”