On December 31, 2017, Logan Paul, a Youtuber with over 15 million subscribers, posted a controversial video, entitled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” There were several things wrong with this video, but the one that stood out the most was when Paul and his friends not only showed the viewer a video of a dead body, but laughed and made jokes about a man who was hanging on one of trees in the Japanese Suicide Forest, Aokigahara. This behavior soon became a issue.
Death and suicide are not topics that can be explained easily. They are heavy, deep, and emotional. Logan Paul shouldn’t walk into a forest where people end their lives, plan to stay the night for a vlog watched by younger audiences, and claim that it was to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Logan should know the demographics of his viewers better than anyone else. They are young kids, mostly unfamiliar with the concept of death or suicide. It is difficult for these young people to take in a dead man’s body hanging on a tree, and there is absolutely nothing positive that they can learn through watching a 22 year-old comedian react immaturely to it.
It is clear that Paul was trying to manage his complicated emotions in the video. According to the vlog, it was his first time seeing a dead body, too. He felt uncomfortable, afraid, and upset, just like how many of us would feel if we had to look at a man who decided to take his own life. Everyone reacts to these feelings differently, and the reactions that he had in the video may have seemed normal to some. However, it was wrong for him post the video of this reaction. We will never be able to know the dead man’s story, or what he has gone through, but we definitely know one thing: He wanted to be left alone. He never hung himself to be someone’s way of raising awareness for suicide prevention. He never hung himself to be filmed and posted on the internet for millions of people to watch. The fact that Logan Paul has 15 million followers doesn’t give him any right to disturb a place where people find peace by ending their lives.
YouTube responded to this issue by removing him from top-tier Google ad platforms and YouTube red projects. YouTube also posted on Twitter, “Suicide is not a joke. Nor should it ever be a driving force for views. As Anna Akana put it perfectly: ‘That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.’ We expect more of the creators who build their community on YouTube, as we’re sure you do too. The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences. It’s taken us a long time to respond, but we’ve been listening to everything you’ve been saying. We know that the actions of one creator can affect the entire community, so we’ll have more to share soon on steps we’re taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again.”