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The Office suicide controversy

Vicki Salemi is passionate about writing. As a regular contributor to AOL, MSN and numerous sites and publications she also blogs regularly for CNBC European Business, Women for Hire and Manhattan adventures on her website www.vickisalem...

Suicide not funny

The Office is one of NBC's hottest shows. However, The Office is in a bit of hot water lately due to a scene where Steve Carell's character tries to scare young kids by struggling in a hangman's noose.

Suicide not funnyThe Halloween episode of The Office, which aired last Thursday, began with the company hosting a haunted house for children.

Carell's character, Michael Scott, promised to scare them and then popped out with his rendition of a hanging.

Scott then spoke in an exaggerated voice a la public service announcement: "Kids, just remember, suicide is not the answer. It is the easy way out."

Here's the skinny: the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and other mental health organizations are outraged. And rightly so: they're saying entertainers and in this case, NBC, should stop using suicide as a punchline.

By making a joke out of it essentially they're making light of a very grave topic. In fact, their concern is also the depiction of hanging one's self may encourage mentally ill people to commit suicide.

Plus, it could be considered insensitive to people who lost relatives to suicide by hanging.

Suicide not funnyThe foundation's executive director said this scene in particular crossed the line. In addition, he mentioned it's impossible to imagine a death due to breast cancer as a punch line on a television show.

Although a spokesperson for NBC did not have an immediate comment, The Office isn't alone in its feeble attempt to mock something serious for the sake of a few laughs. Television has a long history of that.

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