BY A STAFF REPORTER
THE World Conference of the international Young Christian Students' Movement opened at the Digbv Stuart College of Education, Roehampton Lane, London, S.W.15, yesterday, until August 18.
There will be a study session on The Role of Student Movements in Changing the. Cultural Values of Society" until August 6. The movement's research staff in Paris sponsored a questionnaire which
was circulated all over the world. The replies will form the basis of the study session's discussions.
Students from at least 87 countries will be taking part. They will discuss the ways in which students can change society, including a t ti dent protest and direct action.
A document circulated throughout the movement in preparation for the conference says: "Since 1967 there has not been a single country where students have not demonstrated, proteste d, confronted authority.
"This world-wide student struggle . .. has some common characteristics of which rejecting society both locally and internationally is not the
least. It is significant that all over the world protest k the only way that students have found of 'participating,' in their society."
The students who have prepared the findings of the questionnaire for the conference .think that t h e tremendous increase in the information gained from the masa media has led to a worldconsciousness.
However, they say, the same development 11:LN fed to
increased centralised control and to a domination of rich nations over the under
developed (to a system in fact
which keeps these nations dependent) and likewise to the domination of governments over people so that public opinion has minimal influence, CRISIS PERIOD
And they believe they see the same domination in individual life and in education. -the resultant dissatisfaction and protest through direct and indirect action shows that human society is passing through a crisis. they say.
"The extension of repression is rendered evident in police and military operations throughout the world. in the torture used on dissidents in Brazil, in the presence of American armed forces in Vietnam, in the presence of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia.
"The more repression increases, the clearer becomes the consciousness that society is breaking up. Revolutionary action arid the formation of revolutionary groups becomes more and more common," The Young Christian Students apply Christian principles to action, reading the Scriptures and judging what duties follow from I h e rn. Avowedly seeking to change society by direct and indirect action in various countries, the movement works t h r o u g h small local groups.
Recently, the national branches of the movement have concentrated on the problems of the third world, on student participation in schools and colleges, o workers' rights and individual freedom.
though the Y.C.S. is a predominantly Catholic movement, t h e conference (held every three years in a different country) is interdenominational, and open to who are interested in the theme, as well as to the official representatives of the national movements.
Big rise in potential suicides
THE latest figures for suicides in England and Wales, reported by the Registrar-General, show that the total in -1968. at 4,584, was the lowest for 16 years.
But the Samaritan organisation, which helps people in trouble. believes that in the London area the number of people comemplating taking their own lives may have doubled in the past t w o years.
They base their assumption on the demand for their services by the depressed and end of their tether callers at the movement's seven I.ondon branches.
In 1967 these branches dealt with 5,999 new cases, but last year there were a further 11,64i cases-and in addition 569 people consulted n e w "crisis assistance" stations at Kingston and 1 ewisham.
the Rev, Basil Higginson. Samaritan% official, said this week : "The number o f suicides may he going down, but this is almost certainly because of improved medical care and better methods of resuscitation. It is certainly true that the number of potentially suicidal people is rising rapidly."
Ile thought the suicide figure for the London area, which was greater than for the rest of the country, was because of "pressure and loneliness" and "the large numbers of people who live in bed-sitters,"
Busiest of the Samaritans' London branches was at St. Stephen's, Walb rook, C i t y, where there were 6,697 cases last year.
This :burnish is run by the Rev. Chad iv'a rah, who founded the Samaritan s, assisted by 164 part-time helpers.