After a long silence on social media, Logan Paul is finally addressing the backlash to a controversial video in which he filmed a the corpse of a suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. The video sparked immediate backlash online, and Paul removed the video from his channel and posted two apologies in the days that followed. On January 3rd, he tweeted “taking time to reflect no vlog for now see you soon,” and hasn’t been heard from since — until now.
“I know I’ve made mistakes,” says Paul in his newest vlog, as mournful piano music plays behind him. “I know I’ve let people down.” Paul says he has spent the last three weeks trying to address his ignorance about the issue of suicide and wants to share what he has learned in hopes of making a difference. The video opens with a first-person account of a suicide attempt from Kevin Hines, a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and it features a conversation between Paul and Dr. John Draper, the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Paul also plans to donate $1 million to suicide prevention organizations.
Although Logan has been silent on the subject until today, Jake Paul — Logan’s brother and another popular influencer — addressed the controversy briefly in a video posted January 22nd. “It didn’t feel right to comment on it right away,” Jake says. “I think what Logan did was very, very, very wrong, and he made a huge mistake,” Jake says. “Not only is he paying for it, but he is learning from it. I think in no way shape or form is suicide a joke or should be made fun of ... He did not mean to offend anyone.” Regardless of intent, Logan’s actions still had consequences. In response to negative feedback from the community, YouTube condemned Paul’s video and removed the vlogger as a preferred ad partner. Paul’s YouTube Red projects were also shelved.
For better or worse, Paul now has more of the spotlight than ever before. “It’s time to start a new chapter in my life as I continue to educate both myself and others on suicide,” says Paul in his video. “I’m humbled and thankful to say this is just the beginning.” It’s possible that this controversy was indeed a wake-up for Paul, and a chance for him to change an excruciatingly public mistake into a lesson for the greater good. But it’s the months that follow, and how he chooses to use his platform now, that will define the sincerity of his words.