Logan Paul is back. We knew it wouldn't be long. Following the disgraced YouTuber's controversial "suicide forest" video, it was unclear how he would return, but one thing was for sure: when you have over 16 million followers, you don't give up that easily.
In the final days of 2017, Paul posted video footage of a dead body — a man who'd apparently died by suicide in Japan's Aokigahara forest. Despite Paul's assurance that he was shocked by the sight, he chose to film the man, who was hanging from a tree. Later, he said the footage made "YouTube history."
"I’m pretty sure that this has never hopefully happened to anyone on YouTube ever,” he stated at the time. "Now with that said, buckle up." He went on to yell, "Yo, are you alive?" at the deceased after laughing about it with his friends.
It wasn't until widespread backlash hit hard that he issued an apology. He was sorry, he said. He was ignorant, he said. It was an unforgivable error that he needed to contemplate during a brief hiatus from the platform.
This is where it gets interesting.
On Jan. 24, Paul returned to YouTube with an unexpected offering: a video promoting suicide awareness. In Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow., Paul travels across the United States to interview survivors and various prevention experts. As the seven-minute documentary-style video rolls, Logan sits solemnly and listens. The video, he says, is a bid to better educate himself on depression and mental illness. Clearly, he is a changed man... or so he would have the world believe.
Some viewers were skeptical...
... and rightly so. Paul has a lot to lose. It's probably true that he made the video in a desperate attempt to save his reputation (and the corporate sponsorships that come with it). But, in truth, the video really is a great source of information on a very important issue. No matter Paul's intentions, it does inform and enlighten the 22-year-old's massive audience. And it does mean something that he has exposed this huge platform to such vital education.
Love him or hate him, this video will make a difference — between quotes from real-life survivors and hard-hitting stats from people like Dr. John Draper, National Suicide Prevention Hotline Director, it has the potential to save lives.
So, in the end, it doesn't matter what Paul's intentions are. "Logan Paul" doesn't matter at all. What matters are the millions of people suffering enough to die of their depression, and the message of hope the video may offer.