The 36-year-old admits depression led to his retirement
The 36-year-old, whose career was hampered by injuries, contemplated suicide, but says thoughts of his wife Leeona and daughter Lucy kept him going.
And he quit football after asking Bury to tear up his contract prior to the 2016-17 season, having joined a few months earlier.
Kirkland told The Guardian: "I was worried how close I was to the next step. That's why I said: 'I need to stop playing football'."
Kirkland began his career with Coventry and also played for Wigan, West Brom, Leicester, Doncaster, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston. He was a member of the Liverpool squad which won the 2005 Champions League.
"That is the biggest thing and I want other people and other players to know that you've just got to talk.
"My career could have been a lot better. When people say Chris Kirkland, they say: 'Always injured.' It's not like: 'Chris Kirkland; he won the Champions League.'"