TOKYO - American blogger Logan Paul apologized Tuesday after getting slammed for a video he shared on YouTube that appeared to show a body hanging in a Japanese forest known as a suicide spot.
Paul, who has millions of Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers, posted an apology on his Twitter site , saying, "Where do I begin. Let's start with this. I'm sorry."
Although the 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.
The video, posted Sunday, shows Paul 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.
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"I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity," he said in his Twitter post.
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."
A YouTube spokesperson also issued an apology for the video, which has been removed from the site:
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. 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. We partner with safety groups such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to provide educational resources that are incorporated in our YouTube Safety Center.
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 here it does in other cultures. Ritual suicide, known as seppuku or hara-kiri, has long been portrayed in movies and theater as an honorable 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.
If you need someone to talk to about suicide, you can find several helpful resources here at the website for the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.