The YouTube community responded in outrage after internet personality Logan Paul uploaded a video of him and his friends laughing after discovering a suicide victim hanging from a tree in Japan.
Paul and his friends were visiting a forest locally known for frequent suicide attempts. While filming the trip they came across the corpse of a man who hanged himself. The group continued to film but blurred out the face of the victim.
After laughing and making jokes about the incident, they notified local authorities of their finding.
The video was uploaded to Paul’s YouTube channel, which has over 15 million subscribers, with a blurred image of the victim in the thumbnail. Receiving mass criticism, the video was subsequently removed from the site.
JBU sophomore Emily Fischer said the video could have a negative effect on the millions of Paul’s younger followers. “Some kids have never thought about suicide. Videos like this can condition children into treating suicide as a joke,” Fischer said.
Fischer recalled looking up to celebrities growing up and said, “When you’re a kid, it’s easy to idolize celebrities without questioning their morals.”
In response to the hate he received, Paul released an apology on Twitter in which he claimed he did not post the video for views but to raise awareness about suicide. Paul said after finding the body he was “misguided by shock and awe, as portrayed in the video.”
Actress and YouTube personality Anna Akana, for whom issues regarding suicide hits close to home, tweeted this in response to Paul’s apology: “When my brother found my sister’s body, he screamed with horror & confusion & grief & 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.”
Akana’s tweet received massive support and was re-tweeted over 100,000 times and received well over 400,000 likes.
Annamarie Trank, a JBU alumna who regularly films and uploads content to YouTube, said, “When he [Paul] released his apology, I thought it was insincere. He obviously did it for views. He knew putting the dead body in the thumbnail would bait people into clicking the video and generate views.”
Trank also said, “I think he’s a disrespectful kid who is so caught up in the success of his career and having so many followers that in his head he thinks he can do no wrong because everyone loves him.”
YouTube has since taken further steps to address Paul’s behavior. He is no longer a member of Google Preferred, which is Google’s premium ad program that connects high traffic channels with more advertisers. The company has also pulled the original YouTube Red series “Foursome” in which Paul was featured.
Heather Friesen, a JBU sophomore, said “I believe that YouTube was justified in punishing Logan Paul the way they did, but I hope they find a way to keep videos like this from ever being posted. I would be shocked if my child was watching a YouTuber this popular and was exposed to something so insensitive.”