Sydney Morning Herald 13 January 2016Feelings of isolation enhanced by our increasingly technology-obsessed lives have contributed to a record-breaking year for crisis support service Lifeline, which received more than one million requests for help from troubled Australians in 2015.It is the first time in the charity’s 52-year history that the number of crisis and suicide prevention calls passed the one million mark in a year, while September to December was the busiest four-month period ever for the service’s 24-hour crisis phone line.Lifeline Australia chief executive officer Pete Shmigel said it was no coincidence that more Australians were seeking help at a time when they were also spending more time online, particularly on social media.“We’ve seen the restructuring of the conventional way of our society. We don’t know the neighbours on our own streets … and at the same time you’re getting this amazing phenomenon called social media, which I believe has the capacity to accelerate those senses of loneliness and isolation,” Mr Shmigel said.“The more connected we are online, physically we don’t have time to be connected in real life, and that goes against the grain of hundreds of thousands of years of human experience.“We’ve been in families and we’ve been in communities because we need direct, real, human, sticky, gooey, social contact. It’s what keeps us well.”http://www.smh.com.au/national/facebook-twitter-drive-record-number-of-calls-to-lifeline-crisis-support-20160112-gm4p6n.html Keep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.
Dozens of children have been killed in fighting in South Sudan, where battles rage despite political deals to end almost two years of civil war, the United Nations has said.The UN said that fighting in the northern battleground state of Unity has “intensified with grave consequences for civilians” in recent weeks, adding that 40,000 people are also starving to death.The report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released late on Friday detailed killings in just one area of Unity state during a two-week period.It said that in the Leer district of southern Unity, which has swapped hands multiple times between government and rebel forces, at least 80 civilians were killed between October 4 to 22. Almost three-quarters of those killed were children – at least 57 killed in Leer – while there were more than 50 cases of rape being used as “a weapon of war”, the report said.Both sides are accused of having perpetrated ethnic massacres, recruited and killed children and carried out widespread rape, torture and forced displacement of populations to “cleanse” areas of their opponents.Hunger experts from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) have warned of a “concrete risk of famine” before the end of the year if fighting continues and aid does not reach the hardest-hit areas.While some aid has reached two districts in Unity – Buaw and Koch – other areas are cut off.Some 3.9 million people are in critical need of aid – a third of the country’s population and a massive 80% rise compared to the same period last year, the UN said.Civil war began in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.The army and rebels have repeatedly accused each other of breaking an internationally-brokered August 26 ceasefire, the eighth such agreement aimed at ending the nearly two-year long war.