According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 million people lose their lives by suicide each year – that’s 1 life taken every 40 seconds, or 3,000 each day. Suicide takes a toll not only on those who are gone, but to all the friends and loved ones of the person. Many lose their lives due to feeling a sense of burden on the world, an intense amount of emotional pain and negative feelings they wish to escape, an altered social world in which leaving would solve perceived problems, and feelings of utter hopelessness. Aokigahara, a wooded area in Japan, has been titled the “Japanese Suicide Forest” because so many have lost their lives to suicide there.

YouTube star Logan Paul was traveling in this forest when he and his crew were filming for his channel. His video filmed what appeared to be a suicide victim. Paul took disturbing close ups, made insensitive comments, and published the video with a blurred picture of the victim’s face as the thumbnail. Many people were outraged by this video, and for good reasons. Although the star claimed he meant for the video to promote suicide awareness, there were several components of the video that didn’t promote this goal:

  1. Disturbing images and video clips of a person who has been taken by suicide can encourage, rather than prevent, others who are having suicidal thoughts.
  2. Horrific images surrounding suicide can traumatize people rather than educate and inspire them.
  3. Serious topics, such as suicide, cannot be discussed casually. Spontaneity surrounding the topic sent an underlying message that it was not worthy of formality and respect.
  4. Showing footage of a person who has passed is disrespectful to that person – there are millions of people who have had related stories and exposing only the aftermath of the physical and emotional turmoil of someone’s life discredits what they’ve gone through. Everyone has a story and their death should not be the focus.
  5. Celebrities and YouTube stars must take into consideration the context with which they work in. Their lives are being documented, and content that is out of their typical range could spark controversy surrounding the motivations for posting it.

The video acquired more than 1 million views before it was taken down. After much criticism, Logan Paul apologized for his actions by stating,

“I’m sorry. This is a first for me. I’ve never faced criticism like this before, because I’ve never made a mistake like this before…I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity…”

This incident has sparked a world-wide conversation surrounding how we can discuss mental illness and suicide. We can all learn more about the symptoms of suicide and how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from it.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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