Research - The Papageno Effect

About the protective potentials of specific prevention stories.

CC BY / Stadtmuseum Tübingen/ /

There has been a long-standing strong research focus internationally on risks associated with suicide reporting, most importantly, regarding contagion effects known as the Werther effect. Until 2010, only little emphasis has been put on protective potentials of specific prevention stories which are relevant to both media reporting recommendations and suicide awareness campaigns. Research on associations between content-analytic aspects of suicide reporting in the media and subsequent suicides, conducted by members of the Werkstaette, revealed an indirect association between media reporting on lived experiences of coping with adverse circumstances and subsequent suicides, the Papageno effect. This protective effect has been termed the Papageno effect in honor of the character in Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. When Papageno fears that he has lost his love, Papagena, he prepares to kill himself. But three boys save him by reminding him of his alternatives to dying.

Recent experimental and population-based studies from the Werkstaette provide further support for the Papageno hypothesis, suggesting that both films, online content and newspapers, and artistic portrayals featuring mastery of crises, hope and recovery reduce suicide risk factors in individuals with increased vulnerability to suicide and in the general population.

Since 2019, the Wiener Werkstaette is a co-organizer of the Papageno Media Award for Preventive Suicide Reporting, which honors the best suicide preventive journalistic work in the previous year and is awarded by the Austrian Ministry of Health and Social Affairs on World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).

Related Publications

Arendt F, Markiewitz A, Scherr S. (2023). News for life: Improving the quality of journalistic news reporting to prevent suicides. Journal of Communication, 73(1), 73-85. 10.1093/joc/jqac039.
Arendt F, Till B, Voracek M, Kirchner S, Sonneck G, Naderer B, Pürcher P, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2023). ChatGPT, artificial intelligence, and suicide prevention: A call for a targeted and concerted research effort. Crisis 44(5):367-370. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000915.
Braun M, Till B, Pirkis J, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2023). Effects of suicide prevention videos developed by and targeting adolescents: A randomized controlled trial. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 32, 847–857. 10.1007/s00787-021-01911-6.
Klim-Conforti P, Zaheer R, Levitt AJ, Cheung AH, Schaffer A, Fefergrad M, Niederkrotenthaler T, Sinyor M. (2023). The impact of a children’s literature-based cognitive behavioural therapy skills curriculum on middle-school youth who self-report clinically relevant and non-clinical mental health symptomatology. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, 12, 100471. 10.1016/j.jadr.2023.100471.
Till B, Arendt F, Rothauer P, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2023). The Role of the Narrative in Educative Suicide Awareness Materials: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Health Communication, 19;1-14. Online ahead of print. 10.1080/10410236.2023.2167580.
Arendt F, Markiewitz A, Scherr S. (2022). News for life: Improving the quality of journalistic news reporting to prevent suicides. Journal of Communication. Advance online publication.
Kirchner S, Till B, Ploederl M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2022). Effects of “It Gets Better” Suicide Prevention Videos on Youth Identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Other Sexual or Gender Minorities: A Randomized Controlled Trial. LGBT Health, 9(6), 436-446. 10.1089/lgbt.2021.0383.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Laido Z, Gould M, Lake AM, Sinyor M, Kirchner S, Brain M, Chowdhury S, Gonzalez F, Draper J, Murphy S, Till B. (2022). Associations of suicide-related media reporting characteristics with help-seeking and suicide in Oregon and Washington. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 00048674221146474. Online ahead of print. 10.1177/00048674221146474.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B, Kirchner S, Sinyor M, Braun M, Pirkis J, Tran US, Voracek M, Arendt F, Ftanou M, Kovacs R, King K, Schlichthorst M, Stack S, Spittal MJ. (2022). Effects of media stories of hope and recovery on suicidal ideation and help-seeking attitudes and intentions: Systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Lancet Public Health, 7(2), e156-e168. 10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00274-7.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Tran US, Baginski H, Sinyor M, Strauss MJ, Sumner SA, Voracek M, Till B, Murphy S, Gonzalez F, Gould M, Garcia D, Draper J, Metzler H. (2022). Association of 7 million+ tweets featuring suicide-related content with daily calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and with suicides, United States, 2016-2018. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Online ahead of print. 10.1177/00048674221126649.
Sinyor M, Roberts L, Spittal MJ, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2022). Suicide and resilience related Google searches during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Affective Disorders. 303:203-205. 10.1016/j.jad.2022.02.021.
Côté D, Williams M, Zaheer R, Niederkrotenthaler T, Schaffer A, Sinyor M. (2021). Suicide-related Twitter Content in Response to a National Mental Health Awareness Campaign and the Association between the Campaign and Suicide Rates in Ontario: Le contenu Lié au Suicide Sur Twitter en Réponse à Une Campagne Nationale de Sensibilisation à la Santé Mentale et à L’association Entre la Campagne et le Taux de Suicide en Ontario. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie, 706743720982428. 10.1177/0706743720982428.
Grosselli L, Herzog K, Aseltine RH, Balazs J, Carli V, Ciffone J, [...], Niederkrotenthaler T, [...], Knapp S. (2021). Dos and Don’ts in Designing School-based Awareness Programs for Suicide Prevention: Results of a Three-stage Delphi Survey. Crisis (in press). 10.1027/0227-5910/a000783.
Klim-Conforti P, Zaheer R, Levitt AJ, Cheung AH, Schachar R, Schaffer A, Goldstein BI, Fefergrad M, Niederkrotenthaler T, Sinyor M. (2021). The Impact of a Harry Potter-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Skills Curriculum on Suicidality and Well-being in Middle Schoolers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Affective Disorders, 268, 134-141. 10.1016/j.jad.2021.02.028.
Knipe D, Hawton K, Sinyor M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2021). Researchers must contribute to responsible reporting of suicide. In BMJ (Clinical research ed.) (Vol. 372, p. n351). 10.1136/bmj.n351.
Metzler H, Baginski H, Niederkrotenthaler T, Garcia D. (2021). Detecting Potentially Harmful and Protective Suicide-related Content on Twitter: A Machine Learning Approach. ArXiv:2112.04796 [Cs].
Niederkrotenthaler T, Baumgartner J, Kautzky A, Fellinger M, Jahn R, Wippel A, Koch M, König-Castillo D, Höflich A, Slamanig R, Topitz A, Wancata J, Till B. (2021). Effects of media stories featuring coping with suicidal crises on psychiatric patients: Randomized controlled trial. Eur Psychiatry. 64(1):e70. 10.1192/j.eurpsy.2021.2244.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Westerlund M. (2021). The role of mass media in suicide prevention. In book: Oxford Textbook of Suicidology and Suicide Prevention (Ed: Wasserman D). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/med/9780198834441.003.0075.
Sinyor M, Williams M, Zaheer R, Loureiro R, Pirkis J, Heisel MJ, Schaffer A, Cheung AH, Redelmeier DA, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2021). The relationship between suicide-related Twitter events and suicides in Ontario from 2015 to 2016. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 42(1), 40–47. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000684.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2021). Medieneinflüsse auf suizidales Erleben und Verhalten [Media effects on suicidal experience and behavior]. In Teismann T, Forkmann T, Glaesmer H (eds.), Suizidales Erleben und Verhalten. Cologne, Germany: Psychiatrie-Verlag.
Braun M, Till B, Pirkis J, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Suicide prevention videos developed by and for adolescents: A qualitative study. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 1-7. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000696.
Kirchner S, Till B, Plöderl M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). “It Gets Better” videos for suicide prevention in LGBTIQ+ adolescents: Content analysis of German-language videos. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000691.
Kirchner S, Till B, Plöderl M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Perceptions of LGBQ youth and experts of suicide prevention video messages targeting LGBQ youth: Qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 20, 1845. 10.1186/s12889-020-09853-5.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2020). Effects of awareness material featuring depressed and suicidal individuals on an audience with depressive symptoms: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 66, 101515. 10.1016/j.jbtep.2019.101515.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2020). Effects of suicide awareness materials on individuals with recent suicidal ideation or attempt: Randomized controlled online trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 217(6), 693-700. 10.1192/bjp.2019.259.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B, Grabenhofer-Eggerth A. (2020). Papageno-Medienpreis für suizidpräventive Berichterstattung [The Papageno Media Award for suicide-preventative reporting]. Psychologie in Österreich, 40, 44-48
Sinyor M, Kiss A, Williams M, Zaheer R, Pirkis J, Heisel MJ, Schaffer A, Redelmeier DA, Cheung AH, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Changes in Suicide Reporting Quality and Deaths in Ontario Following Publication of National Media Guidelines. Crisis, 1–8. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000737.
Sinyor M, Niederkrotenthaler T, Pirkis J. (2020). Suicide_. In The New England journal of medicine (Vol. 382, Issue 21, p. e66). 10.1056/NEJMc2002190.
Sinyor M, Spittal MJ, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Changes in Suicide and Resilience-related Google Searches during the Early Stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can J Psychiatry, 65(10), 741–743. 10.1177/0706743720933426.
Sinyor M, Stack S, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). What the highest rated movie of all time may teach us about portraying suicide in film. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 54(3), 223–224.
Sinyor M, Williams M, Zaheer R, Loureiro R, Pirkis J, Heisel MJ, Schaffer A, Redelmeier DA, Cheung AH, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). The association between Twitter content and suicide. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 4867420969805. 10.1177/0004867420969805.
Till B, Braun M, Gahbauer S, Reisinger N, Schwenzner E, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Content analysis of suicide-related online portrayals: changes in contents retrieved with search engines in the United States and Austria from 2013 to 2018. Journal of Affective Disorders, 271, 300-309. 10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.063.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Die Wirkung von Aufklärungsmaterialien über Suizid auf Personen mit rezenten Suizidgedanken oder Suizidversuchen [Effects of suicide awareness materials on individuals with recent suicidal ideation or attempt]. Das Gesundheitswesen, 82, 446. (abstract).
Till B, Tran US, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). The impact of educative news articles about suicide prevention: A randomized controlled trial. Health Communication. 10.1080/10410236.2020.1813953.
Tucker RP, Haydel R, Zielinski M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2020). Storytelling of suicide attempt recovery and its relationship with mental health treatment-seeking attitudes and behaviors: An experimental study. Journal of American College Health : J of ACH, 1–9. 10.1080/07448481.2020.1767110.
Arendt F, Scherr S, Pasek J, Jamieson P, Romer D. (2019). Investigating harmful and helpful effects of watching season 2 of 13 Reasons Why: Results of a two-wave U.S. panel survey. Social Science & Medicine, 232, 489-498.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2019). Suicide and the media: From Werther to Papageno effects – A selective literature review. Suicidologi, 24(2), 4-12.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2019). Types of stressors on non-professional against-suicide and pro-suicide message boards: content analysis. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 40(4), 257-264. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000562.
Till B, Arendt F, Scherr S, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2019). Effect of educative suicide prevention news articles featuring experts with vs without personal experience of suicidal ideation: A randomized controlled trial of the Papageno effect. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 80(1), 17m11975. 10.4088/JCP.17m11975.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2019). Medien und Suizid: Der aktuelle Forschungsstand zum Werther- und Papageno-Effekt – Eine Übersichtsarbeit [Media and Suicide: Current State of Research on Werther and Papageno effect – A Literature Review]. Psychotherapie Forum, 23(3-4), 120-128. 10.1007/s00729-019-00125-1.
Van den Nest M, Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2019). Comparing indicators of suicidality among users in different types of nonprofessional suicide message boards – a linguistic analysis. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 40(2), 125-133. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000540.
Arendt F, Scherr S, Niederkrotenthaler T, Krallmann S, Till B. (2018). Effects of awareness material on suicide-related knowledge and the intention to provide adequate help to suicidal individuals. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 39(1), 47-54. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000474.
Armstrong G, Vijayakumar L, Niederkrotenthaler T, Jayaseelan M, Kannan R, Pirkis J, Jorm AF. (2018). Assessing the quality of media reporting of suicide news in India against World Health Organization guidelines: A content analysis study of nine major newspapers in. Journals.Sagepub.Com, 52(9), 856–863. 10.1177/0004867418772343.
Sinyor M, Schaffer A, Nishikawa Y, Redelmeier DA, Niederkrotenthaler T, Sareen J, Levitt AJ, Kiss A, Pirkis J. (2018). The association between suicide deaths and putatively harmful and protective factors in media reports. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal de l’Association Medicale Canadienne, 190(30), E900–E907. 10.1503/cmaj.170698.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2018). Werther- und Papageno-Effekt durch Suiziddarstellungen im Internet – Suizidgefahr durch neue Medien? [Werther and Papageno effect triggered by suicide portrayals on the Internet – suicide risk via new media?]. Spectrum Psychiatrie, 3, 26-29.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2018). Wie das Internet Suizidverhalten beeinflusst [How the Internet impacts suicidal behavior]. Ärzte Krone, 24, 26-27.
Arendt F, Scherr S, Till B, Prinzellner Y, Hines K, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2017). Suicide on TV: minimising the risk to vulnerable viewers. British Medical Journal, 358, j3876. 10.1136/bmj.j3876.
Krysinska K, Westerlund M, Niederkrotenthaler T, Andriessen K, Carli V, Hadlaczky G, Till B, Wasserman D. (2017). A mapping study on the Internet and suicide. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 38(4), 217-226. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000444.
Scherr S, Arendt F, Schäfer M. (2017). Supporting reporting: On the positive effects of text- and video-based awareness material on responsible journalistic suicide news writing. Archives of Suicide Research, 21, 646-658.
Till B. (2017). The impact of suicide portrayals in films on audiences: A qualitative study. In T. Niederkrotenthaler & S. Stack (Eds.), Media & suicide: International perspectives on research, theory, & policy (pp. 171-181). Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Books.
Till B, Tran US, Voracek M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2017). Beneficial and harmful effects of educative suicide prevention websites: randomised controlled trial exploring Papageno _v_. Werther effects. British Journal of Psychiatry, 211(2), 109-115." 10.1192/bjp.bp.115.177394.
Arendt F, Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2016). Effects of suicide awareness material on implicit suicide cognition: A laboratory experiment. Health Communication, 31(6), 718-726. 10.1080/10410236.2014.993495.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Gould M, Sonneck G, Stack S, Till B. (2016). Predictors of psychological improvement on non-professional suicide message boards: Content analysis. Psychological Medicine, 46(16), 3429-3442. 10.1017/S003329171600221X.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2016). Die Rolle der Online-Medien für die Suizidprävention [The role of online media in suicide prevention]. In SUPRA (Ed.), Suizid und Suizidprävention in Österreich: Bericht 2015 (pp. 21-28). Vienna: Federal Ministry of Health.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2016). Die Rollen der Medien im Rahmen von SUPRA (Suizidprävention Austria) [The role of the media in the frame of SUPRA (Suicide Prevention Austria)]. Suizidprophylaxe, 43(2), 60-65.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2016). Medienberichte können wichtigen Beitrag leisten [Media reports can render an important contribution]. Ärzte Woche, 1-2, 12. (Letter).
Niederkrotenthaler T, Tran US, Till B. (2016). Werther vs. Papageno effect online: Randomized controlled trial of the impact of educative suicide prevention websites on suicide risk factors. European Journal of Public Health, 26(suppl. 1), 241. (abstract). 10.1093/eurpub/ckw171.007.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2016). Das Internet als gesellschaftlicher Raum, in dem Gesundheit thematisiert wird: Beispiel Suizidalität und Suizidprävention [The Internet as social space where health is discussed: The example of suicidality and suicide prevention]. In K. Wittmann & R. Schoberberger (Eds.), Der Mensch in Umwelt, Familie und Gesellschaft (pp.. 236-240). Vienna: Facultas.
Till B, Tran US, Voracek M, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2016). Music and suicidality: A study on associations between music preferences and risk factors of suicide. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 72(4), 340-356. 10.1177/0030222815575284.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Arendt F, Till B. (2015). Predicting intentions to read suicide awareness stories: The role of depression and characteristics of the suicidal role model. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 36(6), 399-406. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000344.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2015). Suizid und Medien – die Bedeutung der Medien in der Suizidprävention [Suicide and media – the role of the media in suicide prevention]. Spectrum Psychiatrie, 4, 11-13.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2015). Reply to ‘Methodological considerations in determining the effects of films with suicidal content‘. British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(6), 562-563. (letter). 10.1192/bjp.207.6.562a.
Till B, Strauss M, Sonneck G, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2015). Determining the effects of films with suicidal content: a laboratory experiment. British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(1), 72-78. 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.152827.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Reidenberg D, Till B, Gould M. (2014). Increasing help-seeking and referrals for individuals at risk for suicide by decreasing stigma: The role of mass media. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 47(3), 235-243. 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.06.010.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2014). Positive und negative Aspekte des Internets für die Suizidprävention [Positive and negative aspects of the Internet for suicide prevention]. Suizidprophylaxe, 41(3), 96-106.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2014). Surfing for suicide methods and help: Content analysis of websites retrieved with search engines in Austria and in the United States. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 75(8), 886-892. 10.4088/JCP.13m08861.
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2014). Vom Werther- zum Papageno-Effekt. Die Rollen von Medien in der Suizidprävention [From Werther to Papageno effect. The role of the media in suicide prevention]. JATROS – Neurologie & Psychiatrie, 6, 27-30.
Till B, Tran US, Voracek M, Sonneck G, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2014). Associations between film preferences and risk factors for suicide: An online survey. PLOS ONE, 9(7), e102293. 10.1371/journal.pone.0102293.
Till B, Herberth A, Sonneck G, Vitouch P, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2013). Who identifies with suicidal film characters? Determinants of identification with suicidal protagonists of drama films. Psychiatria Danubina, 25(2), 158-162.
Till B, Herberth A, Voracek M, Sonneck G, Vitouch P, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2013). Die Wirkung von Filmen mit Suiziddarstellungen auf die emotionale Befindlichkeit der Zuschauer und der Einfluss von Rezeptionsmodalitäten und Coping-Strategien [The impact of suicide portrayals in films on viewers‘ emotional well-being and the mediating effects of emotional modes of reception and coping strategies]. Suizidprophylaxe, 40(3), 107-117.
Till B, Sonneck G, Baldauf G, Steiner E, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2013). Reasons to love life: Effects of a suicide awareness campaign on the utilization of a telephone emergency line in Austria. Crisis – The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 34(6), 382-389. 10.1027/0227-5910/a000212.
Till B, Vitouch P, Herberth A, Sonneck G, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2013). Personal suicidality in the reception of and identification with suicidal film characters. Death Studies, 37(4), 383-392. 10.1080/07481187.2012.673531.
Till B, Voracek M, Herberth A, Strauss M, Etzersdorfer E, Eisenwort B, Sonneck G, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2013). The role of interviews with health professionals in the media in suicide prevention. Archives of Suicide Research, 17(1), 88-89. (letter). 10.1080/13811118.2013.748419.
Eisenwort B, Hermann A, Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T. (2012). Darstellung von Suizidalität in deutschsprachigen Jugendmedien in Österreich und ihr Einfluss auf die Suizidprävalenz [Suicide reporting in German print and online media for adolescents in Austria and possible effects on suicide prevalence]. Zeitschrift für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie, 40(4), 251-261. 10.1024/1422-4917/a000178.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Till B. (2011). Role of media reports in completed and prevented suicide: Papageno vs. Werther effects. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 25(9), 71. (abstract).
Till B. (2011). Role of personal suicidality in the reception of and identification with suicidal film characters: A laboratory experiment. Chinese Mental Health Journal, 25(9), 56. (abstract).
Till B, Niederkrotenthaler T, Herberth A, Voracek M, Sonneck G, Vitouch P. (2011). Coping and film reception: A study on the impact of film dramas and the mediating effects of emotional modes of film reception and coping strategies. Journal of Media Psychology, 23(3), 149-160. 10.1027/1864-1105/a000048.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Voracek M, Herberth A, Till B, Strauss M, Etzersdorfer E, Eisenwort B, Sonneck G. (2010). Role of media reports in completed and prevented suicide: Werther v. Papageno effects. British Journal of Psychiatry, 197(3), 234-243. 10.1192/bjp.bp.109.074633.
Niederkrotenthaler T, Voracek M, Herberth A, Till B, Strauss M, Etzersdorfer E, Eisenwort B, Sonneck G. (2010). Papageno v Werther effect. British Medical Journal, 341, 5841. (letter). 10.1136/bmj.c5841.