Logan Paul’s apology: Is it enough?


Sandy Dang, Reporter, Public relations

22-year old social media influencer Logan Paul first received his taste of fame from Vine, a well known and widely used video sharing app, but eventually moved onto an occupation of YouTube vlogger and actor. Paul currently racks in 16.24 million subscribers and more than than 3.229 billion views on his self-titled YouTube channel.

Most recently, the young vlogger received backlash for his video on a recent trip to Japan, where he and his entourage traveled and planned to camp in Aokigahara, also known as the Suicide Forest. Titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest,” with a thumbnail image of Paul standing in front of a blurred out body, the video received more than 1 million views before being removed by YouTube within 24 hours. In the video, Paul, alongside a number of other YouTubers and a guide who accompanied them, found the body of a man who had recently hung himself. Paul zoomed his video camera in to show the body and later took up-close footage with only the face blurred out while the guide phoned the police. Paul said in the video that he originally intended to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest. When one member from his group said he did not feel good after seeing the hanging body, Paul replied: “You never stood next to a dead guy?” and laughed.
Paul responded to the backlash of anger from his fans and the social media community as a whole with an apology in which he claimed an attempt at raising awareness for suicide and promoting suicide prevention. Although his intention means well, his approach misses the mark. The video portrayed a horrible degradation of the serious nature of suicide as he adds snide comments and jokes regarding the body.

“When my brother found my sister’s body, he screamed with horror and confusion and grief and tried to save her. That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness,” fellow YouTuber, Anna Akana on Twitter.

When finding a dead body, a wide range of emotions come forward, but within those emotions, laughter should never occur, especially when discovering the body of a suicide victim.

Every suicide victim holds a story—a family and friends, a job, maybe even kids, but Paul degraded the man’s death while laughing and exploiting his suicide as clickbait to his vlog.

In his apology post on Twitter, Paul claimed he posted videos daily for more than 15 months, which made him “caught up in the moment without fully weighing up the possible ramifications.”

As a content creator, Paul remains aware of his wide reach of varying audiences. Nonetheless, he should know the consequences of his actions and what will ignite backlash from the Internet. As pointed out on Twitter and other social media platforms, Paul and his management team had ample time during editing and preparation to choose not to post the video.

While no official record exists for the number of suicides in Aokigahara because the Japanese government does not want to promote the forest as a suicide destination, more than 500 people have reportedly died there since the 1950s.
Japan’s suicide rate stands as the sixth highest in the world, although figures have declined in recent years. The latest government report found that 21,897 people took their own lives in 2016, and while that represented the lowest number for 22 years, suicide remains the top cause of death for people aged 15-39 in Japan.

From the posting of the video to its removal and his apology, Paul received a wide range of responses from NC students.

“It was very insincere, and he really didn’t address anything. He was [like] ‘oh I didn’t do it for the views. I have views.’ He was just talking about himself. It wasn’t really an apology,” sophomore Reagan Beach said.

Paul’s apology revealed only regret of getting caught, not his remorse for posting the video and degrading the heaviness and heartbreak suicide brings. Nonetheless, Paul continues to receive negative responses concerning the incident and apology. He stands by the video, declaring it as a response to suicide prevention and suicide awareness. Students along with other users on a range of social media platform, expressed their concern with Paul’s incoherence between the reality of the situation and his intention.

Raising awareness for suicide and suicide prevention will and must never include the exploitation of a human’s death in the equation.