Latest video makes no mention of donations or outreach to suicide prevention organization in Japan, however.

On December 31, American YouTuber Logan Paul posted a video shot in Aokigahara, one of Japan’s most common suicide locations. The video showed the body of a man who had hung himself from one of the forest’s trees, followed by Paul and his companions chuckling in reaction.

While entrance to Aokigahara is neither forbidden nor frowned upon (the area is actively trying to attract more hikers and nature lovers), the tone of Paul’s video was seen as incredibly disrespectful, attracting criticism from around the world. The video was taken down on January 1, and the next day Paul posted a demonetized apology before going on hiatus until January 24, when he uploaded a video titled Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow.

The video opens with Kevin Hines, a man who attempted suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge at the age of 19, recounting the feelings that drove him to want to end his life, and the immediate regret he felt after leaping off the bridge. Paul also speaks with John Draper and Bob Forrest, and representatives of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Alo House Recovery Centers, a drug and alcohol addiction treatment organization that also deals with suicide prevention.

In the video, Paul’s manner is humble and apologetic, and he displays what appears to be a legitimate desire to learn more about the psychology of suicidal urges and how to help those in need. At multiple points in the video, Paul and the other speakers reiterate that those grappling with suicidal depression are not alone, and that there are people ready and willing to show them that life is still worth living. At the video’s conclusion, Paul announces that he will be donating one million dollars to suicide prevention organizations, with $250,000 granted to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately.

Setting aside the question of whether or not Paul’s recent acts of contrition are enough to earn him redemption, the new video’s overall message, that suicide is not the answer, is something everyone can agree with. The monetary donations will also undoubtedly go a long way in furthering the mission of suicide prevention organizations and Paul pledges that this will not be the end of his efforts, saying “from this point on, I want to make an effort to contribute, and immerse myself in the conversation [regarding suicide].”

However, taking a step back and looking at things on a global scale, it starts to seem like something is missing. The whole controversy started when Paul went to Japan’s most famous suicide location, filmed the remains of a Japanese man who’d committed suicide, and handled the presentation of the video in a way severely lacking in maturity or decency.

▼ Aokigahara

Though Paul’s persona hasn’t ever necessarily been one of social sensitivity, it’s hard to imagine he would have been so tone-deaf had he been filming in the U.S. Consider again the above-mentioned Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, itself a common suicide location. Would even the pre-Aokigahara-video Paul have been so callous as to make a video about going to “America’s suicide bridge,” filmed the dead body of someone who had leapt to their death, and then thought it was OK to upload a video where he and his buddies laugh, nervously or not, in reaction?

Of course not. So while yes, Paul’s Aokigahara video was definitely insensitive about the concept of suicide, it was also insensitive about suicide within Japanese society. There’s a natural human tendency to feel a disconnect to problems that are happening far away from your own nation or culture, but Paul’s video is an extreme example, with its tone betraying an extreme lack of empathy stemming in no small part from a lack of personal connection to the country.

In all fairness, it’s possible some of the remaining $750,000 Paul pledges to donate will go to suicide prevention organizations within Japan (considering that a Japanese-speaking guide appears in some of Paul’s videos, language barriers shouldn’t be a concern, and regardless, if you’ve got enough cash to donate a million bucks, you’ve got enough to hire a translator). However, when Paul makes a point in the video of specifically mentioning that he’s donating to America’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, that seems like it would have been the ideal timing to also mention his efforts to help address suicide in Japan as well, if there were any to mention.

One could argue that since Paul’s video triggered a much more heated backlash from the international community than Japanese locals (who usually don’t keep up on foreign YouTubers), it’s only appropriate that the majority of his efforts go towards preventing suicide outside Japan, and working within his home country no doubt affords him the most opportunities to connect with the necessary experts and organizations. Still, it’s hard not to notice a contrast between two quotes from Paul.

In his January 2 apology video, Paul solemnly says “I want to apologize to the victim and his family,” referring to the Japanese man whose dead body he filmed. In his newest video, he tells viewers “I want to be a part of the solution, and that solution began across the country in New York City,” and while that’s a noble-sounding statement, the apparent lack of any effort to be part of the solution across the Pacific is disappointing.

Related: List of Japan Suicide hotlines, U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Source: BBTV via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/Alpsdake