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2 January 2018updated 08 Sep 2021 1:31pm

How dare YouTube star Logan Paul turn suicide into clickbait?

The vlogger joked about being haunted by the ghosts after finding a dead body in a Japanese forest.

By Imogen Groome

When I was 15, I found myself on a bridge, trying very hard not to throw myself off it. 

I was having a difficult time with mental illness and an ever-increasing sense of loneliness. I had few friends, and felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. At that moment in time, I’d felt the only option left was to wander out to that bridge, in a trance-like state, seeking some form of escape.

But as I looked down at the swirling water below, and shivered in the winter air, I thought about the consequences of actually jumping. My family would be devastated. I wouldn’t achieve my dreams of becoming a journalist and author. No matter how bad I felt now, it would get better.

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So I walked away from the bridge. I talked about what I was going through with people who cared, and slowly but surely, I started to feel better.

***

“I’ve never had a more real moment than this,” Logan Paul says to the camera, his face flushed with excitement.

Stood in the forest, dressed in a green alien hat, he looks like any other young man out camping. But what he’s describing isn’t lighting his first fire, toasting marshmallows and sharing stories with his friends out in the wilderness.

No, he’s just shown us a dead body in a forest known for suicides.

“This is the most real vlog I’ve ever made,” he tells his viewers, many of whom could be children, at the start of his YouTube vlog. He’s included a warning, too: “This video contains suicide and death.” This is followed by some words advising people considering suicide or harming themselves to “seek help or go to an emergency room”. The warning remains on screen for seconds.

The focus, of course, is on Logan Paul himself, the camera zooming into his face as he tells us about his experience. The title of the video (now taken down) begins “We found a dead body”, deliberately phrased in a clickbait style to entice viewers to watch him.

And the video starts off with him laughing, goofing around, and off on an adventure with his pals.

The idea that Logan Paul has dreamed up is to go camping. He jokes about being haunted by the ghosts of people who have died by suicide, failing to realise this is both incredibly disrespectful and insensitive. At least, I hope the reason he thought this idea was OK is because he lacks the intellect to realise the impact his content can have on other people. I’d hate to think he simply refuses to acknowledge it because he knew that the video would go viral and doesn’t care if he’s loved or hated by the general public.

As Paul skips through the forest, he’s seemingly unable to connect the idea of a forest known for suicides with… suicide. That all changes, however, when he and his pals are greeted with a horrific and upsetting sight. “Oh my god, he’s hanging.”

“Bro, did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul asks. The camera turns onto his face so we can see his reaction. And we, the viewers, are given a close up shot of a man who has hung himself. 

“We’ve blurred the face of the victim to protect his identity,” Logan tells us. Well, at least you haven’t broadcast 100 per cent of a dead person to millions of people. Just 90 per cent. Of course, in that 90 per cent, you’ve included enough detail that someone young and depressed enough could work out how to go out into a forest and do that themselves.

Well, as he said at the start of the video, I guess we’d better all “buckle the fuck up” to deal with this sight. 

We’ve reached the point in the YouTube world where content creators can see suicide as little more than material for a viral video. 

“His hands are purple, this happened this morning,” we hear, as the camera zooms in on the dead body. 

I remember as I stood on the bridge, my hands were so cold they were going red, and I wondered what would happen to my body. Well, now I know I’d probably have gone purple. Am I triggered? Yes. Have I been reminded of the suicidal thoughts I used to have? You bet.

Has Logan provided help and resources in his video? Apart from the vague flash warning, there’s one helpline in the description box. This is not enough. This is a disgrace. I feel nothing but cold fury.

***

Since the video prompted widespread outrage, Logan Paul has released an apology. He says he was wrong and “I didn’t do it for views… I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet” and raise awareness for suicide prevention. 

A message to Logan Paul: at risk of pointing out the bloody obvious, you shouldn’t have put the footage out there at all. You should have stopped filming the minute you saw the dead body, called the authorities and walked away. 

You’re not a big man, you’re not clever, and you’re putting content out there that shocked me, a 24-year-old woman who’s considered suicide before. What kind of message will such content send to 13-year-olds? You wanted to go viral, and you have – but at what cost? Scarring, traumatising and angering countless people – is that really what viral internet culture has become now?

People who want to watch others goof around online as an escape from their own lives received a shocking, upsetting and triggering 15 minutes of footage, when they clicked on the YouTube trending page and were enticed into watching Logan Paul’s suicide clickbait. That is unacceptable.


If you have ever been affected by depression or suicide, or watched the video before it was removed, please seek the appropriate help and support. If you don’t feel you can talk to anyone you know, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 in the UK, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 001-800-273-8255 in the US. But please don’t let people like Logan Paul have an impact on you. If we lived in a more just world, all of his videos would be completely ignored. It’s all he deserves.