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The social media star sparked international outrage this month when he filmed an apparent suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. On Wednesday he posted an unmonetized video where he speaks with suicide prevention activists. He says he plans to donate $1 million toward suicide awareness organizations.
“It’s time to learn from the past as I get better and grow as a human being,” Paul says. “I’ve never been so humbled in my life.
He’s not kidding: The video cost him monetization opportunities with YouTube, including original films and preferred partner advertising. In addition to public hatred from American parents everywhere and celebrities like Aaron Paul.
In the clip, “Suicide: Be Here Tomorrow,” Paul talks to the director of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline about awareness, especially among young people. The video goes through important information about how to make a difference: ask, listen, be there, help connect, and check in.
He also speaks to filmmaker and activist Kevin Hines, who himself tried to commit suicide as a teen:
“Kevin Hines was 19 when he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of the many incredible people that I’ve been grateful to meet over the past three weeks as I aim to further understand the complexities surrounding suicide, and I know I’ve made mistakes … but what happens when you’re given an opportunity to help make a difference in the world?” Paul asks.
The video shows a meditative Paul, with a new and short-trimmed haircut, walking near a pond and holding a skipping stone. He’s somber and serious. But still himself:
“If you don’t see beauty in the people you meet you’re not looking hard enough,” Hines says.
“You’re incredible, dude,” a moved Paul replies.
Ramon Ramirez is the news director, and formerly the Dot's entertainment editor and evening editor. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Grantland, Washington City Paper, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Monitor.