Paul ‘sheds’ light on mental illness in suicide forest

Logan+Paul+deep+in+thought+as+he+records+body+of+suicide+victim.+photo+courtesy+of+nymag.com
Logan Paul deep in thought as he records body of suicide victim. photo courtesy of nymag.com

Logan Paul deep in thought as he records body of suicide victim. photo courtesy of nymag.com

Logan Paul deep in thought as he records body of suicide victim. photo courtesy of nymag.com

Annabelle Ady, Opinion Editor

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 The New Year had a rough start when YouTube star Logan Paul released a vlog titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese suicide forest.”
  Paul released the video Dec. 31, and sparked outrage across the nation by Jan. 2 when it caught media attention. Within three days the video garnered more than 6.3 million views and 600,000 comments, according to thedailybeast.com. The video featured Paul and friends traveling to Japan’s “suicide forest” and lightheartedly making fun of the concept of a “spooky” forest and the possibility of seeing the bodies of suicide victims.
  The Japanese forest is named Aokigahara but is also referred to as the Sea of Trees. It is well-known as the suicide forest because of the number of suicides that occur there every year — reportedly as high as 247 attempting suicide and 54 completing the act in 2010, according to Time.com. Japanese officials no longer release exact numbers of suicides to avoid the forest becoming popular. Due to the density of the trees many bodies in this forest are not found, and it is said that those who wander off of the path kill themselves.
  Paul’s planned to spend the night in the forest and see if he and his friends could experience anything paranormal. As they looked for a place to set up camp, Paul and his crew stumbled upon a hanging body. Throughout the video it seemed that they were almost anticipating this possibility. Paul filmed the body, as he cracked jokes and shared “in-depth” thoughts about the effects of suicide and mental illness. He later blurred out the face of the victim (how respectful!).
  The video gained even more popularity and was featured on YouTube’s trending page before Paul removed it. Many channels have since reposted it.
  Although this video was meant to be “educational” and perhaps, as a stretch, helpful for those who struggle with mental illness, it was not any of those things.
 After Paul removed the vlog from his channel, he posted a tweet apologizing for insensitivity.  But like many YouTube personalities before him, he only apologized because he got caught. And as is the case with many other YouTubers, who make “mistakes”, his apology appeared empty and thoughtless.
  In his tweet Paul posted a screenshot of his apology, which went beyond the 140-character limit on Twitter. He tweeted Jan. 1, “This is a first for me. I’ve never faced criticism like this before, because I’ve never made a mistake like this before.” He continued, stating that he “didn›t do it for the views. I get views” and that he thought he “could make a positive ripple on the internet…” and that he hoped to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention” through his depiction of suicide.
  In his apology Paul did not seem to grasp how the vlog was crude or problematic at all.  He completely dropped the ball on the whole “suicide prevention” thing. He also ended the apology with #Logang4life and the peace sign emoji — an interesting way to end an apology note (insert thinking emoji here).
  Another video from Paul’s Japan trip, released Jan. 6, depicted him as a nuisance, disrespecting Japanese culture by dressing up in a kimono and throwing Pokémon balls at strangers, among other shenanigans.
  Not to get caught up in the pitchfork-and-torch hunt, but honestly, Paul’s audacity is disgusting.  He has abused the power his YouTube platform provides. If he really wanted to “shed light” on suicide or mental illness then maybe, possibly, perhaps this wasn’t the way to do it? Just some food for thought. It would have been more helpful or more authentic to donate his YouTube revenue to suicide prevention charities, or even just making a separate vlog addressing suicide in a respectful and caring manner.
   Americans already have a global reputation for being rude, but this really takes the cake on disrespecting other cultures. It’s safe to say that Paul probably won’t change for the better. For the naysayers who believe otherwise, such as his fans (whom he calls the Logang), it’s unlikely that he will ever learn or see his mistakes because he is selfish. He is not a role model. He is an immature 23-year-old college drop-out with too much influence and power.
  As the first scandal of the year, “We found a dead body in the Japanese suicide forest” has gained a ton of media attention. In the months ahead, as with other issues like net neutrality, the nation will move on and focus attention on other controversies. Until then, feel thankful that the year began on such a low note. That way no one can get their expectations up for the rest of 2018.
 

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