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tell's 50th Anniversary
April 1, 2023 @ The Italian embassy

TELL is a nonprofit organization that has been serving Japan’s international community since 1973. TELL offers free, anonymous, and confidential lifeline support via phone and chat, professional face-to-face counseling, and an extensive outreach program.

The inspiration for TELL’s founding came from Inochi-no-denwa, the Japanese-language suicide prevention helpline. The research into the need for a similar English-language service and the work to make a start-up possible fell mostly to missionaries and members of the various English-speaking congregations in Tokyo. The first training (of some 50 volunteers with just 7 trainers) took place in 1972 with TELL taking its first call on April 1st, 1973.

In the first eight months of TELL’s operation, we answered just over 1,000 calls. By contrast in 2013 – the year of our 40th anniversary – that number had risen almost sevenfold. And of course, the nature of those calls has changed significantly. In this internet age, there are far fewer “information calls” and many more demands on our volunteers to help people deal with depression, anxiety, and a host of other issues. Consequently, our training program for volunteers has evolved accordingly.

By 1988 TELL was able to extend the Lifeline service to three shifts a day and, by 2003, to four. But we still miss a worrying number of calls in the hours when the line is not manned (23:00-09:00) and our goal going forward is to provide a 24-hour service. To this end, we are considering various ideas to attract more volunteers and – while maintaining the very high standards expected in our training – make such training easier to manage for both trainers and trainees.

In the years between our founding and now, TELL has become a member of the Federation of Inochi-no-denwa; created a dedicated TELL/HIV helpline (now incorporated into the general Lifeline); created a Filipino Lifeline (now spun off); is affiliated with Lifeline International, and has received accreditation from the Samaritan Institute in the US. This latter accreditation is essential for the face-to-face counseling service we began offering in 1991.

From the late 1990s, TELL began offering a number of services for children and adolescents and we have continued to build our portfolio of offerings for Children and Families, including assessments. In 2009, we opened our medical clinic, which allowed us to provide a full menu of psychiatric and counseling support for our community.

We are particularly pleased that in our 40th anniversary year, in 2013, TELL was granted certified NPO status.








SAY HI to the community!

Use #TELL50th #50yearswithyou on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to share your memories with TELL's SNS community. View past community submissions from TELL's Step Up Challenge and Tokyo Tower Climb below.

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