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Papageno Media Award: Journalism Preserves Life

The Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs (SOM) and the Estonian Association of Young Journalists (ENAS) present the Papageno Media Award in Estonia, which recognizes the best article, radio program, or television clip supporting suicide prevention published in 2022. The goal of the award is to contribute to increasing the Papageno effect in society.

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.

Studies have shown that irresponsible reporting on suicides can lead to imitating, known as the Werther effect. Therefore, recognizing the authors of stories promoting the Papageno effect wishes to help more people understand the responsibility of writing about suicide and pay greater attention to it.

Papageno Media Award

Words and stories have power. The right words at the right time can bring hope, alleviate sorrow, and show that none of us are alone. It is for this reason that SOM and ENAS believe that journalism plays a vital role in helping to save lives through the Papageno effect.

Apply for the Papageno Award and help save lives through journalism!

All Estonian journalists are invited to submit works that have covered suicide topics and have influenced people through the Papageno effect, which were published in 2022.

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.

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.

Papageno Award Evaluation Criteria

  1. The main theme of the story is suicide and coping with suicidal crises.
  2. A constructive approach to coping with the crisis is described (e.g., mentioning alternative positive ways to overcome the crisis, focusing on inspiring examples of individuals who have come through a suicidal crisis).
  3. Suicide or suicide attempts are not simplified with one single cause. The situation is described as one involving the interaction of multiple factors.
  4. The story does not describe suicidal or suicide attempt details verbally or visually (person, method used, or location).
  5. Romanticizing or glorifying suicide (e.g., "suicide for love" or "heroic departure") and sensationalistic coverage or headlines are avoided.
  6. The story describes the multifaceted nature of suicide or suicide attempts, mentions possible individual or societal contributing factors, provides evidence-based recommendations, and shows alternative ways to cope with the crisis as well as the professional support services available in Estonia.
  7. The story is not presented as hidden advertisement (including specific therapy methods, medications, etc.).

Recommended Additional Criteria

  1. The story is based on in-depth research, using multiple independent sources. Cross-checking has been done, and at least two different perspectives on the same topic are examined.
  2. The story uses a smooth and engaging narrative style, employs stigmatizing-free and sensitive language, considers the difficulties experienced by close ones of suicide victims, and avoids causing re-traumatization.
  3. Comments from experts (e.g., suicidologist, experienced expert) have been obtained.

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.

How to create the Papageno effect through journalism?

Suicide prevention is extremely important. If a story touches upon suicide topics or mental health, it is particularly important to follow responsible reporting practices on suicide.

Instead of This

Do This

Describing or depicting the method an location of the suicide.

Report the death as a suicide; keep information about the location general.

Sharing the content of a suicide note.

Report that a note was found and is under review.

Describing personal details about the person who died.

Keep information about the person general.

Presenting suicide as a common or acceptable response to hardship.

Report that coping skills, support, and treatment work for most people who have thoughts about suicide.

Oversimplifying or speculating on the reason for the suicide.

Describe suicide warning signs and risk factors (e.g. mental illness, relationship problems) that give suicide context.

Sensationalizing details in the headline or story.

Report on the death using facts and language that are sensitive to a grieving family.

Glamorizing or romanticizing suicide.

Provide context and facts to counter perceptions that the suicide was tied to heroism, honor, or loyalty to an individual or group.

Overstating the problem of suicide by using descriptors like “epidemic” or “skyrocketing.”

Research the best available data and use words like “increase” or “rise.”

Prominent placement of stories related to a suicide death in print or in a newscast.
Place a print article inside the paper or magazine and later in a newscast.

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 (10-24)

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  • 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)

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  • Emergency: 112 (24/7)

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.