The man had hung himself just a few hours before the vlogger stumbled upon his corpse. After filming closeups of the man’s body, Paul uploaded a 15-minute video of the incident to YouTube on Dec. 31, with the title, “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest….”
The video went viral and garnered more than 6.3 million views and 600,000 comments on before it was taken offline Monday night, following an intense backlash. Paul was forced to issue an apology.
“This is not clickbait. This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel,” Paul says in the beginning of the video. “I think this definitely marks a moment in YouTube history because I’m pretty sure this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever. Now with that said: Buckle the fuck up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again!”
Paul and his friends had been traveling through Japan all week. His vlog on Saturday was meant to be just another episode in his series on exploring the country. He distributes a 15-minute vlog of his life every day to his more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube and his video Sunday started off normally.
Paul and his friends decided to pay a visit to the Aokigahara forest by Mt. Fuji, also known as “suicide forest,” to camp out and “look for ghosts” after several days in Tokyo. The forest gets its name from the hundreds of people who have taken their own lives in the woods.
The group of vloggers joke around and barrel into the forest with camping supplies, cracking one-liners about death and being haunted.
“Just a couple of dumb Americans going camping in a suicide forest,” Paul says, as he and three friends enter the woods.
But after walking about 100 yards into the brush, he stops in his tracks and points at a tree. “Hey, I really hate to say this, I think there’s someone hanging right there,” he says looking startled. “I’m not even fucking kidding. This isn’t a fucking joke guys… call the police, bro.”
A dead man can be seen hanging from a tree with a noose around his neck.
Paul appears visibly shaken and calls out to the man, “Yo, are you alive? Are you fucking with us?”
The vloggers then approach the body and film a closeup of the corpse hanging, with his face obscured. The camera zooms in on the man’s hands and Paul says, “Dude, his hands are purple. He did this this morning.”
“I’m so sorry about this, Logang,” Paul he says, looking panicked. “This was supposed to be a fun vlog. Suicide is not a joke, depression and mental illness is not a joke, we came here with an intent to focus on the haunted aspect of the forest, but this just became very real. Obviously a lot of people are going through a lot of shit in their lives… Suicide is not the answer guys, there are people that love you and care for you.”
A crowd gathers and police and medics arrive on the scene. Paul and his friends then head to the parking lot to process what they’ve seen, all while still filming.
“This was all going to be a joke,” Paul laughs. “Why did it become so real? This wasn’t supposed to happen.”
“Four-hundred-plus vlogs and I’ve never had a more real moment than this… This is top five craziest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. This is actually No. 1—the craziest moment of my life."
After a few minutes, Paul pulls out a giant bottle of alcohol from his backpack.
“I’m already getting flagged for demonetization, bro, fuck it,” he says, before chugging sake on the ground in the parking lot.
Paul and his friends then greet fans and warn children not to approach the restricted area where the body was found. After several minutes, the video cuts off for the day and reopens with Paul in a stairwell.
He sits on the stairs and delivers a PSA-style announcement to his followers, telling them that suicide is serious and not the answer to their problems. “It’s OK to be different, it’s OK to be unique, in fact I encourage that. It’s called being a maverick,” he says. “I truly believe that every person has a place on this earth.”
He then wonders aloud how wrong it would be to ask for subscribers at the end of the video, ultimately deciding that it’s the right thing to do.
“Is it bad if I do the subscribe thing? Maybe,” he says. “Nah, man, this is why I do it. So people can live the journey with me. If you’re not a part of the Logang, make sure to subscribe. Tomorrow’s vlog I promise you will be much happier.”
After Paul uploaded his initial video, at least one vlogger he was traveling with uploaded his own similar version of the footage. Andy Altig, a YouTuber with over 200,000 subscribers posted a video titled “WE FOUND A DEAD BODY!!! **emotional**” on Sunday before it was quickly removed.
Meanwhile, thousands of tweets flooded in denouncing Paul’s video and his name began trending nationally Monday evening as the backlash reached a fever pitch.
“A YouTuber famous for bullying 12-year-olds and claiming it’s a just a fun joke hyping up his friend who just showed someone dead for views is the exact summary of YouTube in 2017,” tweeted Nate Garner, a social-media influencer with nearly 3 million followers on Instagram. “Some wack ass people are being idolized smh man.”
“Dear Logan Paul, How dare you! You disgust me. I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you,” actor Aaron Paul tweeted. “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.”
“I’m truly sickened by this logan paul situation. i lost my brother to suicide... my brother took his own life by hanging himself... how insensitive and sick can you be to film someone in that state,” said YouTuber Corinna Kopf.
Several other members of the YouTube community called for YouTube to demonetize his channel, essentially stripping Paul of his primary source of income.
“I make one video about my eating disorder and my entire channel is demonetized forever but Logan Paul can show a dead body and make fun of suicide and go # 1 on trending,” wrote one YouTuber.
“Can we start 2018 by removing all Logan Paul content from the internet?” another said.
Grayson Dolan, a YouTuber who famously had a big falling out with Logan Paul’s younger brother Jake, was one of many to tweet a disgusted response.
Paul initially ignored the criticism and took to Twitter to promote his latest video. But on Monday evening he finally apologized by issuing a statement on Twitter admitting that he had made a mistake.
“I didn’t do it for the views. I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet... I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention,” he said.
“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. It won’t happen again.”
For some onlookers, the apology was too little too late.
“if you really care logan paul then donate your 2018 youtube revenue to suicide prevention charities,” Garner said.
Unfortunately, in the world of YouTube, often the most shocking and controversial personalities are rewarded. PewDiePie, YouTube’s highest earning star—with nearly 60 million subscribers—is infamous for posting disturbing and offensive content.
Just this summer, he paid two Indian men to hold up a sign saying “Death to all Jews” along with several other videos with anti-Semitic messages.
Though Paul did lose some followers over the incident, hordes of his young fans known as “the Logang” are still rushing to his defense online.
As YouTuber Philip DeFranco said on Twitter Monday night, “Just remember this… His core audience doesn’t give a fuuuuuuck. Unless youtube does something, this doesn’t hurt him.”