YouTube personality Logan Paul has appeared in his first public interview since the fallout surrounding his posting of a video showing the body of a suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, which is also known as the “Suicide Forest” due to the high number of people who visit the desolate location to take their own lives each year.
The 22-year-old vlogger sat down with Good Morning America’s Michael Strahan in an attempt to explain his intentions behind uploading the 15-minute video, titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest,” claiming that he had originally hoped to “shock and show the harsh realities of suicide” in a bid to raise awareness of mental health issues.
“The idea was to just do another fun vlog, go camp for a night and make another entertaining piece of content in a forest,” Paul explained to Strahan via ABC News.“Things obviously changed pretty drastically and quickly.”
Paul faced a fierce backlash for his decision to record, edit, and share the disturbing footage online, with several viewers questioning his reasoning and criticizing his severe lack of judgment. In the last month, some individuals have expressed their desire to have the host permanently banned from the platform, labeling his behavior “disrespectful” and “disgusting.”
The viral video star, who reaches 16 million YouTube subscribers, reflected on the criticism that his video received, admitting that he felt it had been harsh but fair. He went on to reveal that he had received a number of death threats since posting the video on December 31, 2017, describing this particular period as the “hardest time” in his life.
“It’s been tough, because, ironically, I’m being told to commit suicide myself. Millions of people literally telling me they hate me, to go die in a fire. Like, the most horrible, horrific things.”
Along with his remorse, Paul asserted that he is “a good guy who made a bad decision” and vowed to “think twice” about the type of content that he uploads to the platform from now on, claiming that he is “much more aware of the impact” that his actions have following the onset of the recent repercussions.
“I believe it happened for a reason,” he said. “I think that reason is so I could take this experience, learn from it, spread the message the right way about suicide prevention. I will think twice in the future about what I post, probably three times.”
“I think I’m going to earn a second chance. I don’t think everyone should get a second chance. Some people do horrible things… this was a horrible lapse of judgment. And I can, will and am going to learn from it and be a better person,” he promised in his plea for forgiveness.
After taking some time offline to reflect on recent events, Paul returned to his YouTube channel last week with a seven-minute video solely dedicated to suicide prevention, as he shared his aim to “further understand the complexities surrounding suicide.”
The educational clip presented a number of facts and statistics about suicide, together with a series of interviews, including one with Dr. John Draper, the director of the national suicide prevention lifeline, and another with Kevin Hines, a man who attempted to take his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge as a teenager.
At the end of the video, Paul pledged to donate $1 million to various suicide prevention organizations to assist them with increasing their capacity to help those in need of support.
“I’m humbled and thankful to say this is just the beginning,” he concluded.