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Super Bowl XXVI MVP quarterback Mark Rypien speaks about death of cousin Rick

Aug 17, 2011, 8:30 AM EDT

Mark Rypien Getty Images

The sad and untimely death of former Canucks forward Rick Rypien is bringing out an outpouring of emotion from all over the NHL world. Players, executives, and coaches are all expressing their grief over the discovery of Rypien being found dead in his Alberta,Canada home. After years of dealing with depression, reports of Rypien’s death ultimately being a suicide are rampant.

One person who knew Rick Rypien better than most is a fellow athlete and family member with the same last name. Former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien was Rick’s cousin. As you’d expect, he was taken aback by the news of the sudden death of his troubled cousin. Sadly for Rypien, tragedy is something he’s too familiar with after losing his own son at age 3 to cancer.

Randy Sportak of Sun Media has Rypien’s take.

“It’s so surreal. Here one day and gone the next,” Mark Rypien said from Spokane.

“He was a young man whose best years were still ahead of him. From our family’s standpoint, it’s been a sad day and a half.”

“From seeing him two weeks ago and now he’s not with us anymore, it’s really tough,” Mark said. “It’s tough to think we were on a golf course having a cold beverage laughing and giggling, and here we are putting a young kid way too young into the ground.

“I’ve been there before with my own child and it’s not how the circle of life is supposed to be. You’re not supposed to put your children into the ground before yourselves.

“It’s a tough day.”

After reading so many takes on Rypien’s death, including a powerful one from The National Post’s Bruce Arthur, it’s the sort of thing that makes you reflect on your own life and think about those who you know that struggle with depression or to those you’ve lost to suicide. Those who deal with depression often do so in private which makes it so hard to try and help them out when the need it the most.

For a guy like Rypien who was getting as much help as he was from the Canucks organization and seemingly getting himself back in order to move on and look to restart his career with the Winnipeg Jets, seeing it all end now seems so out of the blue and so wrong. What this shows us is that depression can be battled and treated but it will always be there in some way. It doesn’t have to be obvious, it could just sit below the surface slowly eating away at one’s psyche.

Those that live with family or friends dealing with depression know how hard it can be and for those that deal with it personally they know all too well how hard it is to keep a consistently strong frame of mind. Sadly for Rick Rypien, even with a new start in the NHL ahead of him, things went wrong somewhere for him making what could’ve been a great comeback story into a terrible and saddening tragedy.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, never be afraid to reach out. The Depression and Bi-Polar Alliance can provide help and information there. The same applies for those who feel suicidal. Losing a loved one to suicide is a horrible experience and one that never leaves you. If you or someone you know whose feelings and problems are pushing them to contemplate suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the best resource and outreach group to turn to.

  1. polegojim - Aug 17, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    Joe – great job putting the contact info for the Alliance. Too many people, ESPECIALLY MEN are ashamed to talk about depression or thoughts of suicide.

    It’s not weakness, it’s an illness, no more, but certainly no less. Just get treatment, feel better.

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