Sydney Morning Herald 13 January 2016
Feelings 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.”