YouTube's Logan Paul tears up in new apology for suicide forest video
YouTube star Logan Paul has issued a new apology after he was dragged by celebrities and fellow YouTube personalities for a controversial video he shot in Japan’s “suicide forest,” Aokigahara.
“I have made a severe and continuous lapse in my judgement, and I don’t expect to be forgiven. I’m simply here to apologize,” a teary-eyed Paul says in a recorded message posted to his social media channels on Tuesday.
The now-deleted video at the center of the controversy showed Paul and a group of friends traversing the Aokigahara forest at the base of Mt. Fugi — commonly referred to as the “suicide forest” for the number of people who die by suicide on the land. In addition to filming a seemingly dead body hanging from a tree, Paul calls out to it.
Paul did include messages at the beginning and end of the 15-minute video urging those with mental health issues to seek treatment, but many who saw the video took issue with other lines. “This was all going to be a joke,” Paul said later in the video. “Why did it become so real?”
“So what we came across that day in the woods was obviously unplanned, and the reactions you saw on tape were raw, they were unfiltered,” he explains in the new apology. “None of us knew how to react or how to feel. I should’ve never posted the video. I should’ve put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. 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.”
Paul initially issued a written statement apologizing for the video, but many criticized the attempt as self-serving.
“You’re an idiot,” Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner tweeted directly at Paul. “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.”
Nate Garner, another online personality, tweeted, “if you really care logan paul [sic] then donate your 2018 youtube [sic] revenue to suicide prevention charities, [the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention] is a great one.”
The Path star Aaron Paul (no relation) called Paul “pure trash” after the suicide forest video was posted. “How dare you! You disgust me,” the actor tweeted. “I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you. So sad. Hopefully this latest video woke them up.”
“I want to apologize to the internet, I want to apologize to anyone who’s 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, I want to apologize to the victim and his family,” Paul now says. “For my fans who are defending my actions, please don’t — they do not deserve to be defended. The goal with my content is always to entertain, to push the boundaries, to be all-inclusive. In the world I live in, I share almost everything I do. The intent is never to be heartless, cruel, or malicious.”
“Like I said, I made a huge mistake,” he concludes. “I don’t expect to be forgiven. I’m just here to apologize. I’m ashamed of myself. I’m disappointed in myself and I promise to be better. I will be better. Thank you.”
A spokesperson for YouTube said in a statement obtained by EW, “Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video. 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.”
This article has been updated with a statement from YouTube.