What is the Papageno effect?
In Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute," the protagonist Papageno contemplates taking his own life because he fears he has lost his beloved. However, before Papageno acts on his intention, three spirits appear, reminding him of his magical chimes and helping him find his beloved Papagena again. These three spirits show him that there are other ways to cope with mental and emotional suffering besides taking one's own life.
Inspired by the story of the main character in "The Magic Flute," the Papageno effect is named after him and is an important tendency in the field of suicide prevention. Studies have found that sharing stories of people who have found alternative positive solutions to crises instead of taking their own lives has a positive impact on others, particularly those going through difficult situations. These stories offer hope and prove that no matter how difficult the circumstances may be, help is always available. This is what is known as the Papageno effect.
"While it is a sensitive and sometimes risky topic in the media landscape, we want to encourage journalists to write about suicide with care and responsibility - stories shared with compassion can be a great help and source of hope to someone. And it's precisely these kinds of stories that we want to highlight," said Brita-Maria Alas, a representative of the Estonian Association of Young Journalists (ENAS).
The Papageno Media Award welcomes all media stories published in 2022 that have covered suicide topics and supported the dissemination of the Papageno effect to be nominated. Entries can be submitted until August 11 by filling out a form available HERE.
Studies have shown that irresponsible reporting on suicides can lead to imitating, known as the Werther effect. "Therefore, we recognize the authors of stories promoting the Papageno effect and wish that more people understand the responsibility of writing about suicide and pay greater attention to it," said Anniki Lai, the head of the Mental Health Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs.
The stories will be evaluated by a commission consisting of experts in the field, journalists, and individuals who have had personal experiences with suicide. The commission will select the most impactful coverage supporting the Papageno effect based on internationally recognized criteria. The author of the best story will be awarded a prize of €1000, and the winner will be announced publicly by SOM and ENAS on Suicide Prevention Day - September 10, 2023.
The Papageno Media Award is a joint initiative of SOM and ENAS, aiming to recognize outstanding journalists who have contributed to the dissemination of the Papageno effect in the Estonian media landscape.
The idea of the award originated from Austria and has since been adopted in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, and Croatia. In 2023, it is introduced in Estonia for the first time. The experiences of these countries have shown that awards recognizing responsible reporting on suicide are crucial and have a positive impact as they support the sensitive coverage of the topic in a supportive manner. Iceland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary are also planning to introduce similar awards soon.
Read more about the Papageno Media Award in Estonia, evaluation criteria, and responsible reporting on suicide HERE.
Help is available for those struggling with suicidal thoughts in Estonia:
• Child Helpline: 116111 (24/7)
• Victim Support Crisis Helpline: 116006 (24/7)
• Soul Care Helpline: 116123 (24/7)
• Psychiatric Clinic Emergency Room in Tallinn: 6172 550 (24/7)
• Psychiatric Clinic Emergency Room in Tartu: 731 8764 (24/7)
• Psychiatric Department Emergency Room in Pärnu: 516 0379 (24/7)
• Psychiatric Clinic Emergency Room in Viljandi: 435 4255 (24/7)
• Emergency Medicine Department in Ahtme: 331 1074 (24/7)
• Emergency Medicine Department in Narva: 357 1795 (24/7)
• Emergency: 112 (24/7)