Celebrity YouTuber Logan Paul invited a barrage of criticism on himself after posting a video showing the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan.
Commentators described the 22-year-old American, who has 15 million subscribers on YouTube, as “disrespectful” and “disgusting” after he joked with his friends about discovering the body in Aokigahara forest (also called suicide forest), a notorious suicide spot at the base of Mount Fuji.
The video, which Paul Logan posted on Sunday, received millions of views before it was removed.
Paul and his friends, who are filming from various locations in Japan, reportedly came across the body moments after entering the ancient forest. Their video showed the body of a man, whose identity is unknown, from several angles but blurs his face.
A member of the group is heard remarking that he “doesn’t feel good”. Paul replies: “What, you never stand next to a dead guy?” and then laughs.
The exchange, and the decision to upload images of the victim, prompted a wave of criticism online.
The Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul wrote on Twitter: “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.”
Others called on YouTube to take action.
Fellow YouTube star Kandee Johnson said: “Dear @youtube, after the Logan Paul video where he shows a dead body of a suicide victim, uses that for the title, makes heartless jokes next to the body, there needs to b age restrictions for certain creators. How is this allowed on YT? His followers are children! Horrifying.”
Another Twitter user claimed that Paul “knew what he was doing. He’s not ‘sorry’. He disrespected that suicide victim, people with mental illnesses and Japan. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. He knew what he was doing and I’m disgusted.”
Logan Paul later apologised to his 3.9 million followers on Twitter: “Where do I begin … Let’s start with this – I’m sorry,” he said.
Dear Internet, pic.twitter.com/42OCDBhiWg
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) January 2, 2018
Aokigahara has gained worldwide notoriety as a suicide spot, with a record 105 bodies reportedly discovered there in 2003. Local police have stopped releasing the number of annual deaths in an attempt to reduce the area’s association with suicide, the Guardian reported.
The forest’s hiking trails are dotted with signs urging those with suicidal thoughts to consider their families and contact a suicide prevention group.