An American YouTuber with more than 15 million subscribers has apologised after posting a video online which appeared to show the body of a suicide victim.
Daily vlogger Logan Paul pulled the video from his channel and said he was “wrong” and “misguided by shock and awe” in a statement released following a huge backlash.
In the video, entitled “We found a dead body in the Japanese suicide forest”, Paul is seen with friends in Japan’s Aokigahara forest before they discover the body of a man hanging.
The 22-year-old tells viewers that the group visited the area intending to focus on the “haunted” aspect of the forest, a frequent site of suicides, before things got “very real”.
The clip, which was viewed more than a million times before it was taken down, showed the man’s body with his face blurred.
Other prominent YouTubers such as Philip DeFranco and Charles Trippy are among those criticising the video maker on Twitter.
Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul also tweeted: “I can’t believe that so many young people look up to you. So sad. Hopefully this latest video woke them up. You are pure trash. Plain and simple. Suicide is not a joke. Go rot in hell.”
In his statement, posted to Twitter, Paul said he was “sorry” about the content and insisted “it won’t happen again”.
He said: “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’m surrounded by good people and believe I can make good decisions, but I’m still a human being. I can be wrong.
“I didn’t do it for views. I get views. I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity.
“That’s never the intention. I intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention and while I thought ‘if this video saves just ONE life, it’ll be worth it’, I was misguided by shock and awe, as portrayed in the video. I still am.”
He added: “With great power comes great responsibility… for the first time in my life I’m regretful to say I handled that power incorrectly. It won’t happen again.”
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123, or email email@example.com in the UK.