It’s been a week since Logan Paul shocked the internet by posting a video on YouTube entitled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…” The video, which included partially blurred footage of a body hanging from a tree, violated YouTube guidelines and offended many in the community. It took a week before YouTube responded to Logan Paul’s video, but in the meantime, other YouTubers voiced their outrage about it — even after Paul released his apology video. Among them was Anna Akana, a filmmaker who completely shut down Paul with her powerful words.
Paul’s video took place in Aokigahara, the infamous Japan-based “suicide forest” near Mt. Fuji known for its high rate of suicides. It shows Paul and his friends discovering the body of a man hanging from a tree. It is disturbing, upsetting, and cruel. The man’s face is blurred out. At one point in the video, Paul is seen laughing and making jokes about the dead man. It understandably upset viewers, and Akana was one YouTube star who did not stay silent.
Shortly after the video was posted, Akana tweeted out a message to Paul:
Dear @LoganPaul,— Anna Akana (@AnnaAkana) January 2, 2018
When my brother found my sister’s body, he screamed with horror & confusion & grief & tried to save her. That body was a person someone loved.
You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness.
Her response went viral and led many to ask the same question: Who is Anna Akana? She’s an actress, comedian, producer, filmmaker, and model with a YouTube channel that has about 1.9 million subscribers. One of the reasons Paul’s video hit so close to home for Akana is because her 13-year-old sister, Kristina Akana, committed suicide in 2007. A few months after going through that experience, Akana turned to comedy to get through it. She ended up leaving college to pursue her comedy career, eventually creating her own YouTube channel.
Much of Akana’s work might be funny, but she is also a source of inspiration for her fans. Because of her sister’s death, Akana is very vocal about suicide and suicide prevention. In 2013, she uploaded a video to YouTube called “Please Don’t Kill Yourself,” in which she opens up about what it was like when her sister killed herself.
Around the same time, Akana released a book entitled Surviving Suicide, a personal narrative that includes her journal entries from the time of her sister’s suicide. In 2017, she released her newest book, called So Much I Want To Tell You: Letters To My Little Sister, a heartfelt memoir that also touches on her sister’s death.
While Akana may be known for her successful YouTube channel, she is also an actress who has played several notable roles. To name a few: In 2011, Akana appeared on MTV’s Awkward and as an extra in Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night music video. In 2016, she was in the indie comedy film alongside Sally Field called Hello, My Name Is Doris. She also appeared in the Netflix film You Get Me and Freeform’s show Stitchers.
The star never shies away from speaking up about important mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Many of her fans find solace in her videos and words, so it was no surprise that she shut down Paul the way she did.
Akana has not made any statement on Paul since her initial tweet, which sent a powerful message. On January 10th, a week after the video went up, YouTube finally responded to Paul’s video with an open letter apology posted to its Twitter account:
An open letter to our community:— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018
Many of you have been frustrated with our lack of communication recently. You’re right to be. You deserve to know what's going on.
Suicide is not a joke, nor should it ever be a driving force for views. As Anna Akana put it perfectly: "That body was a person someone loved. You do not walk into a suicide forest with a camera and claim mental health awareness."— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018
It’s taken us a long time to respond, but we’ve been listening to everything you’ve been saying. We know that the actions of one creator can affect the entire community, so we’ll have more to share soon on steps we’re taking to ensure a video like this is never circulated again.— YouTube (@YouTube) January 9, 2018
Paul has stated that he is taking a break, and it is not clear whether YouTube will be suspending his account or not.