A YouTube star posted a video showing a dead person hanging from a tree in Japan’s “suicide forest” — then apologized, claiming he was just trying to raise awareness.
Logan Paul, a 22-year-old vlogger, uploaded the graphic footage to his YouTube channel with the title “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide forest….” He issued a warning to his 15 million-plus subscribers that “this is the most real vlog” he’d ever posted, The Verge reported.
The popular YouTuber was visiting Japan’s Aokigahara forest, which is commonly referred to as the “suicide forest” for being the site of hundreds of suicides.
At the beginning of the 15-minute video, Paul and his friends prepare to spend a night camping in the forest with gear including “binoculars to see the ghosts” and a football. As they walk through the forest, the footage cuts to a body hanging from a rope tied to a tree, filmed at a distance.
“Bro, did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul asks.
The group’s guide calls the police while Paul and his gang approach the body, shouting: “Yo, are you alive? Are you f—- with us?”
Though they blur the suicide victim’s face, they zoom in and show his hands, clothes and an abandoned bag.
After Paul realizes he is filming an apparent dead body, he turns the camera on himself.
“So, a lot of things are going through my mind, this is a first for me,” he says, then apologizes to his followers, whom he calls his “Logang.”
“This was supposed to be a fun vlog,” he continues. “Suicide is not a joke … We came here with an intent to focus on the ‘haunted’ aspect of the forest. This obviously just became very real, and obviously a lotta people are going through a lotta s— in their lives.”
The footage, which he has since taken down, was watched 6.3 million times within 24 hours of being uploaded.
The YouTube star said he wasn’t profiting off the video and the description contains information for the American Society for Suicide Prevention.
Twitter users slammed Paul, saying he was making a joke out of a serious issue.
“Dear @LoganPaul, How dare you! You disgust me. 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,” actor Aaron Paul tweeted.
Others pointed out that many of his followers were young kids and teens.
Dear Internet, pic.twitter.com/42OCDBhiWg
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
“With such a massive following and with so many young impressionable viewers, it’s disappointing and down right disgusting for @LoganPaul to make light of an issue like suicide,” user @AllieImpact tweeted.
Paul apologized Monday night, saying he uploaded the footage in an attempt to raise awareness of suicide and suicide prevention.
“I was misguided by shock and awe, as portrayed in the video. I still am,” he wrote. “One may understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications.”
The YouTuber also said he’d “never faced criticism like this before” and that he didn’t post the video to get views.
“I’m often reminded of how big of a reach I truly have & with great power comes great responsibility… for the first time in my life I’m regretful to say U handled that power incorrectly. It won’t happen again,” he wrote, ending his apology with the hashtag #Logang4Life.