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7 Things to Remember Following the News of Logan Paul Filming a Person Who Died by Suicide

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Jordan Davidson, The Mighty’s editorial director of news and lifestyle, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

On Sunday, YouTube star Logan Paul sparked outrage after sharing a video with his 15 million subscribers showing the body of a man in Japan who had died by suicide. Content like this is never acceptable, and those who have died by suicide should be respected and granted the same privacy you’d want for you or your loved ones.

“This is not clickbait. This is the most real vlog I’ve ever posted to this channel,” Paul says in an intro to the video, which he removed a day later, according to New York Magazine. “I think this definitely marks a moment in YouTube history because I’m pretty sure this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever. Now with that said: Buckle the f-ck up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again!”

Within the hours the video was live, it had been viewed 6.3 million times. Backlash was swift.

Paul apologized on Monday, writing:

I do this sh*t every day. I’ve made a 15 minute TV show EVERY SINGLE DAY for the past 460+ days. One may understand that it’s easy to get caught up in the moment without fully weighing the possible ramifications. I’m often reminded of how big of a reach I truly have & 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.

On Tuesday, he published another public apology on Twitter, this time in a video.

Paul wrote that he shared the video to raise awareness and prevent suicide. However, sharing sensitive and graphic information surrounding a suicide is never the correct way to raise awareness and violates guidelines for reporting on suicide. Graphic depictions of a suicide, like what was shown in Paul’s video, can harm those who struggle with suicidal ideation as well as those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

If this news is hard for you, know you are not alone — and there is help for people who are feeling suicidal. Whether you watched the video or are just hearing about it through posts on your newsfeed, here are seven things to remember. 

1. We can’t take the humanness out of stories about suicide. It’s not entertaining when someone takes their life, no matter how “interesting” or “horrifying” the story seems to be. The man Paul showed was a real person with family members who, not only are grieving, but might have learned of the loss of their loved one through a viral video.

2. What we say and show people matters. In June, Alyse Ruriani, a suicide attempt survivor and activist, told The Mighty:

The bottom line is this: it’s incredibly sad and it’s a tragic reminder that words hold power and that what we do and say affects other people… from my perspective the story that needs to be told is more about how we need to remind people that how we interact with others and what we say can have a profound effect on others.

3. We need to educate young people about suicide. It’s easy to say Paul should have known better, but it’s not productive. If, at 22 years old, Paul thinks showing such triggering imagery is acceptable, we need to do a better job educating young people about suicide. Part of this is teaching people how to talk about suicide, but more importantly, young people need to better understand how to support themselves or a friend in the face of suicidal ideation.

4. Suicide isn’t “trendy,” but making it seem so hurts those who are vulnerable. When reports share the way a beloved celebrity died by suicide, shows like “13 Reasons Why” feature a graphic suicide scene or a vlogger like Paul with a young fanbase shows the way a person died, it can hurt those who face suicidal ideation and lead to suicide contagion — an increase in “copycat” suicides. There is no reason to show the way a person died. Humoring people’s morbid curiosity for clicks or video views is never worth the damage it does.

5. It’s OK if you found this video triggering. If you found Paul’s video triggering, you are not alone. Reach out to a friend or mental health professional if watching Paul’s video or hearing about it negatively affected you. There is no shame in admitting you need help.

6. Just because Paul apologized doesn’t mean you have to forgive him. We all screw up from time to time, and messing up when you have millions of fans and followers can subject you to a lot more scrutiny than most people will ever face. However, apologies alone don’t redeem people for insensitive actions. You, the fan or viewer, get to decide whether or not you accept his apology. You also have the right to unsubscribe, unfollow or sign any petition that might be circling.

7. There are resources for people who are suicidal. People who are suicidal need to know what resources are available. Here are some resources to keep handy should you or a loved one ever need them:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

The Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741741.

The Trevor Project, an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline, 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.

For anyone who has lost a child to suicide, click here for a list of resources for suicide loss survivors.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741741.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Luigi Novi

Originally published: January 2, 2018
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