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Our history

Points of interest in our history

“In 1896, two decades after the telephone was patented, the Baptist pastor Harry Warren created something like a telephone counselling service in New York. He wanted to use the phone as a contact bridge in his efforts to reveal to suicidal people alternative ways to committing suicide.

This approach soon failed: there were too few telephones.

In England an emergency call for suicidal people was set up in 1953. The Baptist pastor West placed an advertisement in a London newspaper saying: “Before you commit suicide, ring me up!” He got the idea when he had to bury a fourteen year old girl who had committed suicide. West could not pursue his initiative for personal reasons and the Anglican priest Chad Varah took up the idea. Alarmed by the high suicide rate in London, he published on November 1, 1953 an ad with the same content in the “Times”, to which he added his telephone number.

Soon he could no longer cope alone with the large number of calls that reached him. For his support he selected women and men and founded an organisation called “The Samaritans”. The name was program: In the biblical story, the Samaritan cared for the injured, the sick, the needy, those fallen among thieves, without discrimination, without question of religion or ethnicity, out of responsibility for fellow human beings.”

Quote: www.telefonseelsorge.de

Like other organisations that emerged in Europe, SOS Détresse – Hëllef iwwer Telefon was founded in Luxembourg in 1976.

Here are a few keywords:

  • 1975-1977 – First training for future volunteers on the phone
  • 1975 – Founding of the A.s.b.l. SOS Détresse – Hëllef iwwer Telefon. Formation of the firstboard of directors and drafting of the statutes
  • 1977 – Start of the counselling activity
  • 1994 –  Convention with the Ministry of Family, first employment of professionals and formation of the board of volunteer members
  • 2004 – Recognition as a charitable organisation
  • 2008 –  “Agrément formation et conseil socio-familial” from the Ministry of Family and Integration
  • 2013 – Start of the email counselling SOS OnlineHelp
  • 2022 – Start of a second phoneline exclusively in English once a week
  • 2024 – Start of the chat counselling
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