Trigger warning: this article mentions death and suicide.
On December 31st, Logan Paul uploaded a vlog titled ‘We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” Logan Paul is a YouTuber with over fifteen million subscribers. A number of these subscribers are children as young as eight years old.
Aokigahara is a national forest in Japan, infamous for being a place where as many as 100 people commit suicide every year. The attitude surrounding suicide in Japan is rooted in samurai code — suicide is seen by many as a way of “taking responsibility”, not as a way out or a way to “solve” problems. This forest is a testament to the alarming suicide rate in Japan — in 2017, Japan’s suicide rate is the sixth highest in the world.
In the video, Logan Paul says he has chosen to visit the place to “find himself.” The vlogger and a few other people soon see a dead body upon entering Aokigahara. Paul appears to be surprised despite knowing the forest is known to be a place where many have committed suicide. He then proceeds to zoom in on the man’s corpse. When one of his friends is uncomfortable, Paul jokes, “What, you’ve never stand [sic] next to a dead guy?”
The YouTuber begins yelling in apparent surprise, laughing and fidgeting.
“I’ve seen things I can’t unsee,” he says theatrically.
“I cope with things with humor,” he adds, referring to his inappropriate reaction to his sighting of the corpse. At the very end of the video, Paul is suddenly somber, delivering a brief, templated speech on suicide and staying true to oneself. While these lessons are important, Logan Paul’s blatant insincerity only worsens the tone of the vlog.
To top the video off, Paul uses a shot of the corpse as the thumbnail for the video.
The vlog has since provoked many reactions, with people denouncing Logan Paul’s actions and calling for the video to be taken down.
I cannot believe how beyond disrespectful this Logan Paul guy is filming and zooming in on a Japanese man who hung himself. So dehumanizing, utterly disgusted. Who in their right minds thinks this is okay? Using it in the thumbnail? Undefendable.
— Ross O'Donovan (@RubberNinja) January 2, 2018
I am completely disgusted by @LoganPaul and his actions. How dare you exploit someone’s death for entertainment purposes. Suicide is not something you should be using for your own gain. How dare you. Take the video down.
— Carrie Shade (@CarrieShade) January 2, 2018
For a video that claims to draw attention to the suicide epidemic in Japan, it falls miserably short. Logan Paul is disrespectful to the lives that have been lost and the loved ones of suicide victims. His decision to record and upload this video to YouTube only proves his insensitivity to this issue. It is also a reminder that some people will do absolutely anything for views.
If you are considering suicide or suffer from suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.