Logan Paul, viral social media star, at center of controversy for "suicide forest" video
A YouTube and social media star is apologizing amidst a big online backlash for posting a video that showed an apparent suicide victim in Japan's "suicide forest."
Logan Paul posted the video to his YouTube channel titled "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest", and it was viewed six million views in the 24 hours before it was taken down, according to ABC. The video still appears in other places online, from other people re-posting clips.
The video shows Paul and his friends in Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji that is known as the "suicide forest" due to the high number of suicides that happen there. The group comes upon what appears to be a suicide victim hanging from a tree, and the video shows them reacting to what they see, appearing to laugh and joke about it.
He was quickly criticized online, with many calling it offensive and some saying his videos should be taken down. Other celebrities also weighed in, blasting his decision to shoot and post the video.
Paul posted an apology statement to Twitter, saying his original intent was to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention. In the statement, he said in part "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 I handled that power incorrectly."
He also later posted a video apologizing, saying he made a "severe and continuous lapse of judgement" and even telling people defending him to not, because his actions don't "deserve to be defended."
Paul has more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube, and many of his fans are young teens. He makes money off his YouTube videos, as well as millions in endorsement deals and sponsored posts.