Mental health awareness must be discussed more

Photo courtesy of My Local News | Head photo editor Sydney Sanders reflects on the importance of mental health awareness, especially in the age of social media.

The tweet read: “Logan Paul should probably just kill himself.” Not only was I annoyed with the blunt and crude announcement made by an anonymous Twitter account, but I was also sadly used to seeing this kind of disgust about celebrities, especially from anonymous users. After reading three or four hate comments about the YouTuber, I decided to do some research about the intense shaming. Initially, I just wanted to be up to date with the latest social media drama, but as soon as I was, I wished I hadn’t stumbled upon the disturbing images from Paul’s video.

Anyone with social media is most likely aware of the events surrounding the vlogger, but in case you missed it, here’s what happened. On Dec. 31 Paul released a vlog titled “We Found a Dead Body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” The video showed Paul and a few friends exploring the infamous Japanese forest where is home to hundreds of suicides occur every year. What many thought to be just clickbait with his shocking video title turned out to be the truth. Paul and his crew discovered the body of a man who had taken his life in the forest just hours before the video was filmed. Despite the tragedy that they came across, the vloggers relentlessly chronicled the body discovered, even going so far as to closely film the unknown victim and circle the scene with little to no panic about the situation.

Paul has since received backlash from social media and numerous news outlets about the lack of respect that the group had for the victim and the victim’s family. He has released two apologies since the event, one in the form of a written apology and one in the form of a video. Nonetheless, Paul has not been left off the hook for his actions as he has been demoted on YouTube, losing his preferred status and most associations that he has with the company.

The harrowing images of the suicide should have been a turning point for Paul. The second that he realized there was an actual victim in the forest, Paul and his crew should have turned off the camera and called for help. This was sadly not the case, and the audacity that these 20-something-year-olds had to publicly display the painful effect of mental illness without regard for the victim or his loved ones is the most disturbing part of Paul’s video.

In an apology video, Paul discussed mental health awareness and his regret for the initial video. The issue with his apology, however, is that depicting a dead body in a notorious suicide forest in order to gain millions of views is not mental health awareness, nor is an apology given only after millions of people call you out on your poor decision. Without attempting to discredit the organizations and individuals that have made improvements in the field of mental health in recent years throughout the world, or even on campus here at Xavier, mental health is generally vastly overlooked.

Paul is a perfect demonstration of this.

Logan Paul did something disgusting for his YouTube channel, and although his actions most likely wouldn’t be repeated now, who’s to say that if he didn’t go into that forest with a camera first, someone else wouldn’t have? I am in no way trying to excuse his actions or defend the video, but instead I am claiming that a larger population, one to which Paul obviously belongs, is also culpable for belittling the importance of mental health. I first learned about the video because someone else was telling Paul to kill himself; hypocritical comments about mental health awareness are just as bad as what Paul did. Making a joke about wanting to kill yourself because of your homework is only adding to the problem surrounding Paul’s video. The outrage that sprouted from the video is a positive step toward suicide awareness, but the fact that a disturbing video made society recognize that is a sad realization. Logan Paul is undoubtedly to blame for his actions, but until everyone starts taking mental health awareness seriously, you could be playing a part in this issue, too.

Sydney Sanders is a sophomore Philosophy, Politics and the Public major and the Head Photo Editor for the Newswire from Cincinnati.