Steve Carell, The Office

NBC Photo: Justin Lubin

One could say that Michael Scott hangs himself regularly on The Office. But his latest stunt has more people squirming than usual.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was put off by last week's Halloween episode of the Emmy-winning sitcom, in which Steve Carell's character slips a noose around his neck and fakes a hanging to scare a group of young visitors to Dunder-Mifflin's haunted house.

"Kids, just remember, suicide is not the answer. It is the easy way out," Michael reminds them afterward.

Same old delusional Michael, maybe, but a really inappropriate line according to the people whose mission it is to educate about mental illness and prevent others from taking their own lives.

"We're not trying to be censors or fall into the trap of wanting everything to be PC, politically correct," AFSP executive director Robert Gebbia told the Associated Press. "But on the other hand, it's offensive to some people who have lost relatives to suicide by hanging."

Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Suicide Awareness Voices in Education have echoed the AFSP's objections to showing a possibly lethal act like hanging on TV, which could then be copied by someone who's emotionally or mentally vulnerable.

Coupling the gag with a play on SNL's "Dick in a Box" sketch probably didn't help.

NBC has not yet commented on the controversy, but we imagine The Office meant no disrespect to anyone but Michael Scott.

(Originally published Nov. 5, 2009, at 4:05 p.m. PT)


TV has really been ticking off a lot of people these days. Check out what the Parents Television Council thinks about Gossip Girl, and see how Curb Your Enthusiasm ticked off Catholics.

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