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Why We Should Consider Forgiving Logan Paul

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Logan Paul is a famous YouTuber with over 15 million subscribers. He’s basically an accomplished class-clown with a huge fanbase. Most of his videos derive humor from exaggeration and hyperbole, so he can be a bit offensive at times — as all comedians are. However, at the end of December on a trip through Japan’s “suicide forest,” Paul came across a body of someone who had died by suicide. To say he acted inappropriately is an understatement. He laughed, made some jokes and continued filming. Predictably, the backlash was swift and fierce.

People have told Paul to “go rot in hell.” They’ve said he should stop vlogging, be banned from YouTube and be ashamed of himself forever. People said his apology was self-serving and that we shouldn’t forgive him. Personally, I don’t like the idea of withholding forgiveness forever (especially if the person is sorry), no matter how heinous their transgression — but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I watched Logan’s video in Aokigahara (the true name of “suicide forest”). It’s clear that Paul made a careless, inconsiderate, disgusting mistake. He handled the situation poorly. Just going to Aokigahara to film a vlog is incredibly disrespectful. That being said, I was most struck by Logan’s initial reaction to finding the body — he was visibly distressed and heartbroken. He very clearly doesn’t even know how to process the scene (would any of us know how to react?), and as he slightly recovers from the initial shock, he issues a heartfelt message to those struggling with mental illness. “Suicide is not the answer guys. There are people that love you and care for you,” Logan says. Then he laughs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making excuses for the laughing or the jokes because I’ve struggled with depression for years and I know what it’s like to desperately want to kill myself, but Paul’s reaction struck me as human. I don’t think he meant to be so carelessly crude, nor do I think he realized how his casual demeanor would deeply offend many people who struggle with mental illness and suicidal ideation. Paul screwed up, big time, and it’s hard to see how he thought that video would ever be acceptable in any way.

Then I got to thinking about my battle with depression and suicide. At one point in my fight, I believed that killing myself would be noble. I believed I was a lost cause dragging down all my family and friends. I thought killing myself would save them from the pit of despair that threatened to engulf them because of my battles. Many healthy people wouldn’t understand that. Some would say terrible things about me if I killed myself — that I was “selfish” and a “coward” (they may even think that simply because I thought about suicide). So, I started thinking about the pressure Logan may have felt to produce a video every single day. A funny video. An original video. An exciting video. Every day for over 400 days, he’s done this. Is it so inconceivable that maybe the pressure got to him, that he got so wrapped up in his identity as a “funny guy” YouTube star that he failed to realize how insensitive his video really was? Maybe he even thought the video would raise awareness.

We are so quick to assume the worst in each other, but is that really how we want to go through life? What do people assume about me and my battle with depression? Do they assume I’m lazy? Or weak? Or that I just want attention? What would they have assumed if I killed myself before I got help? I don’t want anyone to assume the worst about me, and I want to be forgiven for the mistakes I’ve made and will make in the future (so long as I really am sorry for it). I believe we should be the first to forgive Paul and give him the benefit of the doubt, because we want people to forgive us, and we especially want to be given the benefit of the doubt when we share our mental health struggles. So, in the spirit of assuming the best in one another, I forgive Logan Paul. I hope you consider doing the same.

(If you or anyone you know is struggling, please reach out. There is so much support out there for all of us).

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Screenshot via Logan Paul Vlogs YouTube channel

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