After posting an extremely ill-advised video showing a suicide victim in a Japanese forest, YouTuber Logan Paul is setting out to make amends by making a video all about suicide.
If you’ve not yet emerged from your New Year’s party haze and don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is in the smallest nutshell possible: Paul made a video in which he and his friends found a body while on a trip to Japan, posted a vlog about it for all his subscribers to see, and was promptly ripped open for his insensitivity in showing the dead man’s body. The original video set off a powder keg of criticism against Paul, YouTube, even the concept of vlogging itself.
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After apologizing and vanishing for a while, Paul is back, and he’s not leaving the subject of suicide behind him. His most recent video appears to be a trailer for a documentary that might as well be titled “Logan Paul Discovers Suicidal People Exist.”
The description is full of information about suicide prevention. It has high production values, somber music, and slow-motion shots of Paul washing his hands or staring at his reflection in the water. Logan talks to doctors and professionals about suicide, where he learns ways of helping those who suffer from suicidal thoughts. He also promises to donate $1 million to suicide prevention organizations.
Paul didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the video and his new initiative.
If it were any other YouTuber, I’d call this a gesture of decency. But since it’s Logan Paul, who thought it was a great lark to bring a smiling face and a video camera into a place he knows is called “The Suicide Forest,” it has a very hollow ring to it. I don’t trust this man to be the purveyor of mental health awareness to 16 million people.
Supposing he genuinely wants to do some good, my first piece of advice would be to spend a little less time worrying about himself. I’ve never heard someone talk so much about themselves in a video about suicide prevention when he wasn’t the suicidal person in question.
“It’s time to start a new chapter in my life.” “It’s time to learn from the past as I get better and grow as a human being.” “I’ve never been so humbled in my life.” (In context, he appears to be talking about the backlash more than finding the dead person.) “I’m here to have a hard conversation so that those who are suffering can have easier ones.” Comparing your struggle to better yourself in this video with the struggle of a suicidal person isn’t very humble, Logan.
When I said in my last article on the topic that I took his apology as sincere, I meant it. He had the stunned look of a person who’s realized they’d done something inexcusable, and nothing about what he said felt like it’d was being fed to him by a PR manager and a ghost writer. I can’t say the same thing about this video. We’re not watching the struggle of suicidal people — we’re watching Logan Paul gosh-golly his way into realizing other people have struggles. And that’s no help.
This is the part where I’m supposed to say, “If his video and money help even one person, it’ll have been worth it.” The money definitely will help, make no mistake — which is why I wish that could have been Paul’s primary contribution, rather than this. Prevention organizations are far better equipped to handle suicide and its accompanying cocktail of problems than a YouTuber.
Any of the young people watching Logan Paul’s channel might be going through struggles of their own. Any one of them thinking Logan Paul has their answers — as well as the people rushing to sing Paul’s virtues — should remember that this is a guy who, this time last month, would have had no problem posting a video of them to his 16 million subscribers.
If Logan Paul wants to help — really wants to help — he needs to take one of the pieces of advice he espouses in the video, and listen. Suicide prevention isn’t about him, his channel, or his PR clean-up.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or experiencing intense feelings of anxiety or depression, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For a similar helpline in your country, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.