There is no doubt that B.C.’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe put considerable thought into her decision to release the full report into the death of Ben Kilmer, the Cobble Hill man who committed suicide in May of 2018.
Lapointe heard Tonya Kilmer’s plea to withhold graphic details from the media and the public as far back as last November and despite being out of her office this week, she listened to a final request from Tonya Kilmer just a few hours before the release was sent to the media.
Lapointe relied on a section of the Coroners Act that allows the chief coroner to release all or part of a Coroner’s Report and requires that the chief coroner consider both the public interest in the report’s findings, and the personal privacy of the deceased.
The chief corner determined that the public interest in the disclosure outweighed the personal privacy of the deceased in this instance.
Clearly, as events have unfolded this week, that was erroneous. It was unfair, potentially harmful to a grieving family and a poor reading of public interest.
Following the publication, in print and online, of the story describing Tonya Kilmer’s efforts to stop the release of a report into her husband’s death, there was an overwhelming outpouring of support for a grieving young widow.
The story was picked up throughout the province and it is clear that tens of thousands of people read the story on Black Press Media sites. Hundreds of readers commented on these sites as well as on our Facebook pages.
The Cowichan Valley Citizen site now has more than 130 comments on our Facebook site, significantly more than we have received for any recent story. Seldom has there been a more one-sided response on an issue.
It is unlikely that there are more than one or two comments on any of the Black Press Media sites that support the release of the full report.
What’s important about this fact is that there is clearly no appetite amongst the public to know the specifics of this suicide. Knowing it was a suicide is more than enough for virtually everyone who is aware of this tragedy.