Carlie Kilduff

Speaking up about suicide in Langford

May 7 event helps reduce the stigma and shame of mental illness

Thirteen years after his death, Cliff Kilduff’s legacy continues.

A teacher at Happy Valley elementary for 33 years who suffered from depression and took his own life in 2003, he continues to make a difference through the work of the family he left behind.

“This is a time right now in our culture when the communication and the conversation around suicide and the conversation around mental health has started – and needs to keep going,” said Cliff’s niece, Carlie Kilduff, a Langford-based teacher, author and spoken word artist.

“Some people (he knew) didn’t know he died of suicide, so we still have this stigma around where these messages are shuffled away quickly.”

To keep those messages in the light and help reduce the stigma and shame around mental illness in the community, Carlie has organized Remembering Cliff Kilduff. It’s an afternoon of spoken word poetry and storytelling, with music by Terry Brennan, Daniel Oliver Francis and Rude Beauty. It’s also a fundraiser, with all proceeds to be split between the Sooke School District and NEED2: Suicide education, prevention and support.

“You don’t have to have known Cliff to come. This is a conversation for anybody who has had depression or lived with it, or knows someone who was touched by suicide,” KiIduff said.

She followed in the footsteps of her uncle and went into teaching in the fall of 2003. In December of that same year he was gone. Carlie went on to teach 10 years, at Edward Milne secondary in Sooke and John Stubbs elementary.

The event happens at the Isabelle Reader Theatre on May 7 – two days after Cliff’s birthday – and remembers the man whose name adorns the gym at Happy Valley elementary.

“My greater mission is to continue this discussion, but to (also) really promote that people understand how valuable they are,”Kilduff said.

Tickets are available at the door at the Isabelle Reader Theatre at Spencer Middle School for $10 per person, on May 7 from 3 to 5 p.m.

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