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'The Office's Hangman's Noose Joke Upsets Suicide Prevention Group

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention isn't laughing about a scene in last week's 'The Office' where Steve Carell's character tries to scare young children by struggling in a hangman's noose.

In the opening scene from the Halloween-themed episode, Michael Scott pops out with his depiction of a hanging as the paper company is hosting a haunted house for young children.

"Kids, just remember, suicide is not the answer," he says. "It is the easy way out."

But despite the message, the suicide prevention group says shows and comedians should stop using suicide as a punchline.

"We try not to be zealots about this," says the foundation's executive director Robert Gebbia. "But this one kind of crossed the line."

"Portrayals of suicide certainly can be offensive to people who have lost someone. There is evidence that shows depictions of suicide or methods of suicide — for people who are vulnerable — these depictions can actually be dangerous."

Gebbia compares a suicide death to one from any other ailment.

"We are not trying to be censors and everybody has to be politically correct," he says. "But the entertainment industry has to consider you wouldn't show footage of people making fun of someone dying from AIDS... or breast cancer."

November 6, 2009 |

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