HIROMI OCHI WRITES – YouTube vlogger Logan Paul, who caused outrage in Japan for his controversial “Suicide Forest” video, has returned, posting his first video after a month’s hiatus.

The controversy began when Paul filmed a video in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, nicknamed “Suicide Forest” for the high number of suicides that have occurred there. Paul uploaded this video to his 15 million subscribers. In it, he and his friends encounter the body of a man left hanging after committing suicide.

Upon seeing the body, Paul calls out, “Yo, are you alive?” and then, “Are you f**king with us?” Paul then walks up to the body, showing close-ups of the man’s hands and body. The victim’s face is blurred out during portions of the video, which had gained 6.2 million views by the time it was deleted. The video ends with Paul informing his viewers that the purpose of filming this was to spread suicide awareness and that this video was not monetized, even providing information for the American Society for Suicide Prevention.

The video caused a massive outcry online. Many commenters labeled Paul a monster for using someone’s tragedy as clickbait. Others accused Paul of lacking morals for posting such footage of someone’s dead family member.

The Suicide Forest video led to criticism of other of Paul’s videos from Japan. Japanese viewers were especially outraged. The other videos show Paul disturbing and causing a ruckus on the streets of Tokyo. The video entitled “We fought in the middle of Tokyo,” depicts the vlogger  terrorizing locals with a fish and some squid he purchased at a fish market, before leaving it on the trunk of a taxi, which drove off not knowing anything of the indecency. He and his friends are also seen wearing Pokémon outfits and throwing a Poké-ball at cars and people, including a police officer.

The backlash that Paul received led him to make a statement and video apologizing for his actions. His tweeted statement claimed that he was facing a “monsoon of negativity,” when the intent of his video was to “raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention.” He denied accusations that he only filmed the video to gain internet fame.

The apology video he uploaded to his YouTube channel and Twitter depicted a teary-eyed Paul as he explained why he filmed and posted the footage of the dead body.

“So what we came across that day in the woods was obviously unplanned, and the reactions you saw on tape were raw, they were unfiltered…None of us knew how to react or how to feel. I should’ve never posted the video. I should’ve put the cameras down and stopped recording what we were going through. There’s a lot of things I should’ve done differently, but I didn’t and for that, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry.”

Many viewers were not satisfied with Paul’s effort to make things right, leading him to take a break from his usual uploads. He returned to YouTube January 24 with his video, “Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow,” which sheds further light on suicide and shows his attempt to “further understand the complexities of suicide.”

The new video shows Paul conversing with suicide-attempt survivors and mental health experts in an effort to “be a part of the solution.” He concluded, stating that he will be donating $1 million to various suicide prevention organizations. Many were quick to comment that Paul’s video was simply a PR stunt to redeem his social media image after the incident, and was not genuine or sincere.

Paul later appeared on Good Morning America for his “Apology Tour.” He explains that he posted the controversial video with a specific goal: “The idea was to shock and show the harsh realities of suicide and get people talking about something that I don’t think people are talking about much.”

Paul then went on to explain the irony of the backlash, stating, “I’m being told to commit suicide myself where millions of people, literally, telling me they hate me, to go die in a fire.”

He states, however, that the repercussions that he has received is fair, including YouTube dropping several of his projects and removing him from its Google Preferred Advertising program.

Since the interview, Paul has returned to YouTube, releasing a video titled “Logan Paul is Back!”  and stating that he is “not going anywhere.” He has since been uploading videos regularly, returning to his former routine.

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