Logan Paul sat down with ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday for his first television interview since facing severe backlash over a controversial video that appeared to show the body of an alleged suicide victim in Japan.
The 22-year-old social media star — who deleted the video, apologized, shut down his page, and then created a suicide prevention video in the wake of the controversy – said posting the clip was “a horrible lapse in judgment” and he “can, will and [is] going to learn from it and be a better person.”
“It’s not like I’m a bad guy,” he said. “I’m a good guy who made a bad decision.”
“This has been the hardest time in my life,” he added. “I’ve never been hated by the whole world. It’s been something to definitely overcome. I will think twice about what I post from now on. ”
Paul — who boasts 16 million followers on his YouTube vlogs account — came under fire in January for posting a graphic video filmed in Aokigahara, a forest at Mount Fuji’s base that is often referred to as “suicide forest” due to the high number of suicides that occur there.
Titled “We found a dead boy in the Japanese Suicide Forest,” the since-deleted 15-minute clip reportedly began with an intro from Paul boasting about the disturbing content before showing footage of what appeared to be a dead body with his/her face blurred out.
Viewers immediately began slamming Paul for the clip, which he had called, “the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel.”
He told GMA the criticism was harsh, but fair. “It’s been tough because ironically I’m being told to commit suicide myself,” Paul said. “Millions of people, literally, telling me they hate me, to go die in a fire. The most horrible horrific things.”
There was a dip in his bottom line too, like when Google Preferred dropped him. “I understand that they needed to take a stance and while I don’t necessarily maybe agree with it, I do respect it,” Paul said. He added, “It hurts but it’s not like I’m drowning. I try not to live my life thinking about money, because money doesn’t make me happy… creating content to make people happy and laugh.”
While he regrets posting the clip, Paul did say he felt it happened for a reason.
“The idea was to just do another fun vlog, go camp for a night and make another entertaining piece of content in a forest.” he explained. “Things obviously changed very quickly. It was 100 yards away from the parking lot. It doesn’t make any sense and I believe it happened for a reason and I think that reason was that I could take this experience [and] learn from it, spread the message the right way about suicide prevention and suicide prevention awareness.”
“The idea was to shock and show the harsh realities of suicide and get people talking about something that I don’t think people are talking about much,” he added. “And still, that’s the goal today.”
Paul has since released a seven-minute clip solely dedicated to suicide education and prevention.
As for parents who question Paul’s content, he made it clear they should be monitoring their children’s access.
“It’s odd, because I’m 22 years old it’s not like I’m making content necessarily for kids. Sometimes I cuss, sometimes I make inappropriate jokes. I want to make jokes kids my age will like. I’m my own demographic.”
“Now, I will say, I’m much more aware the impact my actions have on myself and others,” he said. “I think parents should be monitoring what their children are watching more. Every parent I meet whose kids are under the age of 12, I’m like, ‘You let your kids watch what I do?’ ”
Mostly, he’s just hoping to regain everyone’s trust.
“I’ve gotten to meet the most incredible people and gotten to have the most incredible conversations,” he said. “One of the things I’m learning, which pertains to me, is that crisis passes. And for anyone suffering, it’s important to learn that you are not alone.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).