American video blogger Logan Paul apologized Tuesday after getting slammed for a video he shared on YouTube that appeared to show a body hanging from a tree in Japan's Aokigahara Forest, which is known as a suicide spot.
Paul, who has millions of Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers as a so-called vlogger, posted a video mea culpa midday Tuesday.
"I don't expect to be forgiven. I'm simply here to apologize," he said.
He also said he felt ashamed and disappointed in himself.
"I should have never posted the video. I should have put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. There were a lot of things I should have done differently, but I didn't. For that, from the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry."
He also asked his fans to stop defending his actions online: "They do not deserve to be defended."
The apology video followed an earlier message he had posted on his Twitter site, which stated: "Where do I begin. Let's start with this. I'm sorry."
Dear Internet, pic.twitter.com/42OCDBhiWg— @LoganPaul
Although the original video has been taken down, segments were still online.
Critics, who have also gone online, say what was offensive was Paul's giggling and joking about the body.
I don’t want to just hate. I want this to be a teachable moment. After reading the apology I don’t think it will be.— @PhillyD
Less “I get a ton of views without dead guys” and more of the “sorry I put a dead guy in the thumbnail and video” would have been the beginning of my advice. https://t.co/nXnZWMnUEQ
Imagine if everyone who had power and massive influence used it for good? Please don’t let @youtube views alter your values and morals. Common sense over ad sense. Stay woke. Spread love. Encourage growth. 🙏🏽❤️— @IISuperwomanII
Dear @LoganPaul,— @aaronpaul_8
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.
@LoganPaul You’re an idiot. You’re not raising awareness. You’re mocking. I can’t believe how self-praising your “apology” is. You don’t deserve the success (views) you have. I pray to God you never have to experience anything like that man did.— @SophieT
Video captured near Mount Fuji
Paul's original video, posted Sunday under the title "We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest," shows him going on a trek with friends in the Aokigahara Forest, near Mount Fuji.
He seems aware that the site is sometimes chosen for suicides, but is surprised to come across what appears to be a body hanging from a tree.
He said he had wanted to raise awareness about suicide and possibly save lives, and denied his goal was to drive clicks.
"I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity," he said in his Twitter post.
Dear @LoganPaul,— @AnnaAkana
When my brother found my sister’s body, he screamed with horror & confusion & grief & tried to save her. That body was a person someone loved.
You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.
It is the purview of the privileged young to believe everything is for them, to be commented on by them. The young person who died was not for Paul- not their body, not their image, not their story.— @TheGoodDeath
What a missed opportunity for Paul to NOT use the footage, but vlog in his hotel room later and say "something intense happened today. I had never seen a dead body. Here's how I felt. Mental illness is awful." Then he could dab away into the sunset or whatever.— @TheGoodDeath
Paul posted a more sanguine video on YouTube on Monday, showing him romping through a Tokyo park, talking about his apparel brand, visiting gadget stores and running around city streets wearing a Pokemon outfit.
He briefly mentioned the encounter with a body at the start of the video, saying, "That was weird."
YouTube has also released a comment about the controversy.
"Our hearts go out to the family of the person featured in the video. YouTube prohibits violent or gory content posted in a shocking, sensational or disrespectful manner," the company said in a statement.
"If a video is graphic, it can only remain on the site when supported by appropriate educational or documentary information and in some cases it will be age-gated."
High suicide rates
Japan has a relatively high rate of suicides, with more than 21,000 a year, according to government data. Its per capita suicide rate is among the highest in the world.
Many blame the high suicide rate on the value placed on conformity, excelling and hard work in the country.
Suicide also does not suffer the religious stigma in Japan that does in other cultures. Ritual suicide, known as seppuku or hara-kiri, has long been portrayed in movies and theatre as an honourable way to take responsibility.
The Mount Fuji forest has been known for suicides for decades because people can easily get lost there, and know they won't be found for a long time.
Although Japan has many suicide-prevention groups, the culture of shame has family members of convicted criminals, people who have racked up massive debt and youngsters bullied at school often turning to suicide.