Ben Kilmer’s disappearance in May 2018 sparked a massive search. His body was found in October. The BC Coroners Service has confirmed that he died by suicide. (Citizen file)

Coroner’s report confirms suicide in Kilmer case

2018 disappearance sparked massive search

Ben Kilmer, the Cobble Hill father of two whose body was found near the Chemainus River last October, died by suicide, the BC Coroners Service has confirmed.

Kilmer’s disappearance in May of 2018 sparked a massive search. His van had been found on the side of Old Lake Cowichan Road west of Duncan.

In the days and weeks that followed, dozens of volunteers conducted a ground search in the immediate area but there was no sign of the 41-year-old electrician. It wasn’t until Oct. 17 that a hiker discovered Kilmer’s body in a remote area near the Chemainus River.

Late last week, Tonya Kilmer asked the Chief Coroner, Lisa Lapointe, not to release graphic details of the cause of death for fear the information would be damaging to her two young children.

The Chief Coroner refused the request and on Monday afternoon the full report was sent to at least five parties that requested the document.

Kilmer had asked media outlets not to include the means or cause of death and it appears her request will be honoured.

“We have never published the details of a suicide before, and there is no public interest reason to start now,” Cowichan Valley Citizen editor Andrea Rondeau explained.

“While I think the public is entitled to information in this case, as the search for Ben Kilmer was highly public, it is enough to know that Ben Kilmer took his own life.

“While talking about suicide can be an important discussion for the community to have, knowing how someone killed themselves doesn’t really add to that discussion,” Rondeau said.

Scott Fee, news director at CHEK News in Victoria agreed the graphic details are no one’s business.

“We’re not going to dive into that, we’re not reporting that,” Fee confirmed on Monday.

CHEK posted a report early Monday afternoon and added a section relating to mental health issues and where resources to deal with mental illness can be accessed.

CBC’s reporting also refrained from reporting specific details.

After news of the imminent release of the report and Tonya Kilmer’s plea to the Chief Coroner was made public on Friday, the Citizen website and Facebook page was active with more than 130 people expressing their support for Kilmer.

Province-wide, hundreds of Black Press Media readers joined in the demand that the Chief Coroner only make a redacted report available.

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance abuse.

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