Fresh Outlook Foundation

SENIORS’ SUICIDE: The Loss of a Great Son, Husband, Father, Brother, & Newspaperman

Fresh Outlook Foundation

By Kevin Mitchell 

From the outside looking in, Glenn Mitchell had it all. A wife and two grown sons, a house overlooking Okanagan Lake, and scores of family members and friends who adored him, including me… his older brother.

So then, why did he drive to a local park, walk around for several hours, and then take his life on a sunny, cool December day, eight days before Christmas? He was 60.

Looking back, I see that he loved everybody but himself, and we who loved him will never be the same. May God be looking over you, great brother of mine. 


First Taste of Adversity

Glenn’s first serious health challenge came in his final year of university when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. He spent more than a month at St. Paul’s Hospital and dropped to about 80 pounds, requiring multiple blood transfusions and two surgeries.

The SFU professors allowed him to turn in handwritten notes while he was in hospital. The profs were highly impressed with the awareness and knowledge of Glenn’s notes. He was able to persevere and earn an English degree.

“He had a super attitude,” said Marion Mitchell, Glenn’s mom who spent more than a month by his side. “He would say: ‘When you first come, by the time you leave, I’ll be better.’”

Glenn moved to Kamloops, where his parents had moved from Vernon, getting a job as a janitor at Sears. He then studied journalism at Cariboo College, now known as Thompson Rivers University.

He began his journalism career with the Hope Standard, where he was a reporter who was also tasked with delivering papers late at night. He then heard of a new newspaper starting up in Vernon and was hired as one of the original staff members.

The Morning Star began in June 1988, with Glenn as the first sports editor. He eventually became managing editor, a post he held until his retirement in 2018. An outstanding newspaperman, he taught, coached, and guided so many young journalists as a mentor.

I worked alongside Glenn for 27 years at The Morning Star and announced the passing of my “sweet and beautiful brother” on my Facebook page. The post drew more than 1,200 comments, and his virtual service through All Saints Anglican Church garnered more than 500 individual guests on Zoom.


Feeling Irrelevant

Glenn was hit hardest with depression after new imported management decided to build a hub for the Kelowna and Vernon papers out of Kelowna. This left Glenn on the outside, feeling irrelevant and unwanted.

Many staff members struggled to come to terms with this new way of doing things, but Glenn especially had a difficult time and was undermined at every turn.

“I would say that Glenn just wasn’t Glenn anymore,” said former longtime lifestyles editor Katherine Mortimer. “He seemed to have lost all interest in the job. He just had a flatness to him. I remember telling him about some photos I’d taken at an event, thinking he’d be happy to have them because we didn’t have someone there covering it. He had no interest at all and was actually kind of cranky. That wasn’t him. Usually, he was happy if any of us showed any initiative, and if we brought him things that made the paper better.

“I think he was overwhelmed by all of the changes, as we all were, and it’s almost as though he couldn’t see it getting any better. On his last day at work, he was telling us about what/why he was taking time off and he actually seemed a little brighter, probably incredibly relieved that he was getting out.

“As for the paper, once Glenn left, a bit of the light went out of the place. He really was our North Star, if you will. He was always there for us. If we had some jerk at the front counter or a nasty phone call, he was good at putting out fires. Or if you were having a bad day, you could always go in there and he’d talk you down from the ledge and give you a big Glenn hug.”


Family Memories & Insights

Friday mornings in Glenn’s office were reserved for writing his beloved column, Mitchell’s Musings. It was Glenn’s look at life, politics, sports, and family. He wrote with humour and sincerity.

A sports fan, Glenn played baseball and football as a teenager and then volunteered with minor hockey and high school football for his sons Lucas and Justin. He was also a music lover, with a great vinyl record collection.

“One of the things I miss about him is that out of the four boys, he was the only one who had an appreciation for politics and music, and I could talk to him about them,” said Glenn’s father Lloyd. “Glenn wanted me to pay attention to the words, but I listened to the music.”

An educator for 65 years, Lloyd was perplexed by his son’s final act. He met Glenn for breakfast at Ricki’s Restaurant a week prior to Glenn’s death and found “no sign that he was going to take his own life.” Lloyd also talked to Glenn at Turtle Mountain at noon on the day before he died by suicide.

“The thing I haven’t been able to reckon is how he could leave his sons and later grandsons. I think he was thinking about his sons (at the park), but depression trumped his thoughts.”

Glenn’s mom, a retired nurse, had mild depression most of her life. She could see Glenn was living with depression because he was less conversational and distant.

“He had it the first time and he came through,” she said. “I miss his conversation. He used to come by for happy hour on Friday afternoons and was a joy to be around. I think it (Glenn’s death) was because the psychiatrist who paid a home visit the night before told him he had to go to a mental health facility program the next day, and he just couldn’t face it. I wish he’d made a deal with the psychiatrist to try a different medicine.”

Justin, Glenn’s oldest son who is now a 28-year-old Canada Post employee, perhaps saw Glenn at his most depressed.

“My estimation was he was sick for five years from 2015. One time I came home from work, and he was sitting in a chair looking at a blank TV and his voice was very faint. He said he was doing that because his thoughts were disturbing and so overwhelming that he couldn’t concentrate on the TV.”

Living at home through Glenn’s illness, Justin has positive thoughts about his dad.

“I just remember him being the best dad and so supportive, the way he was to everybody. I miss his criticism, as weird as it was. He was a person to go to for advice.”

Luc, Glenn’s younger son, who is a 26-year-old primary teacher, will miss his dad’s feedback.

“I will miss him being the first person I would tell about any achievement I had in school or a job. He would text me after a (New York) Giants game if they were losing. Once I joined hockey with Jup (Justin), he always loved coming to our games.”

Glenn’s widow, Rhoda, remembers getting a text reading “I love you, x0x0” from Glenn not long before he took his life.

“I texted back “Love ya more, ha.” she said.

Rhoda will fondly remember the multiple trips to Hawaii with the entire family and a honeymoon trek to Maui. She and Glenn also met Justin in New York for their 25th anniversary in 2019, where they watched a Yankees-Twins baseball playoff game and a New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings football game. (It was one of Glenn’s Bucket List wishes).

Justin said Glenn had a way to keep people at ease and hear their stories. Luc admired Glenn’s intelligence.

“He was pretty wise,” said Luc. “He was vulnerable. He was a good man and father. I liked the way he reasoned things out. He was so respected in the community.”

Rhoda loved seeing Glenn interact with others.

“He liked talking to everybody. He was a celebrity. We went in a mini golf tournament in July 2019 with Luc and Kienna, Luc’s girlfriend, and her dad Don and Glenn stopped and talked to everybody. He was a good man.”

A trust fund in Glenn’s honour raised $8,000. This was twice the target, and will go toward erecting a bench at Lakeview Park, where Glenn spent most of his childhood and teenage years.


My Lessons Learned

As for lessons learned from Glenn’s death, we should have spent more time with him, no matter if he seemed good or bad. His family probably should have worked more closely with the medical system, again, whether he was doing well or suffering badly.

I unsuccessfully tried suicide when I was 20. It was perhaps a cry for help, but the attempt left my family devastated. I wasn’t thinking about my family since the depression consumed me.

A nurse in the psychiatric ward helped me with three simple words. “Life is precious.” I think of those words almost daily, so she made a difference in my recovery.

A psychologist in Nanaimo, when I was 32 and suffering from severe depression, also gave me renewed hope when I told him I felt I didn’t fit in, that I felt different.

He digested that for a few minutes and then said, “You’re not different, you’re unique.” I banked those words and say them to myself on an almost daily basis.

My recommendations to family, friends and caregivers include constant conversing with the person with depression, keeping them sharp and hopeful. Get them outside for walks and bike rides. Take them out to a favourite restaurant.”

Basically, take a strong and steady interest.


Helping Someone in Crisis

Talking honestly, responsibly, and safely about suicide can help you determine if someone needs help.

  • Listen and show concern. This can be an immediate way to help someone and won't increase the risk of suicide. It may save a life!
  • Talk with them and reassure them that they're not alone.
  • Let them know you care.
  • Encourage him/her to seek help from a family doctor, counsellor, or trusted person such as a family member, friend, neighbour, or elder.
  • Provide crisis line contact info.

Kevin Mitchell has been a professional writer for newspapers and magazines for 45 years. His love for journalism began in high school when he was editor of both the school paper and yearbook.



Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Canadian Mental Health Association

Mental Health Commission of Canada

Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health


Links Worth Exploring:

Suicide in Canada: Key Statistics (infographic)

Michael Landsberg

Heads Up Guys


Discussion Questions
  1. What do you think were the factors that led Glenn to die by suicide?
  2. Do you recognize Glenn’s story in your life or in the life of someone you love?
  3. Should Glenn have had stronger family support? What might have happened if he had?
  4. Should different medicine have been explored?
  5. What role do you think genetics play in mental health? Does your family have a history of mental health challenges?
  6. What does the story tell you about Glenn as a person, family member, friend, professional writer, co-worker, and community member?
  7. What roles do positive lifestyle choices play in dealing with mental health challenges?
  8. Do you think men have more difficulty talking about personal issues like mental health than women do? If so, why might that be?
  9. If you or someone close to you had signs of depression, where do you think you could look for help to recover?
  10. Is there a person or group of people who would benefit by you sharing this story?

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Consider the Numbers

  • Every day in Canada, more than 200 people attempt suicide. Of those, about 12 people die, meaning the annual total of people lost to suicide is about 4,500. Tragically, many more experience serious depression, suicidal ideation, and/or suicide attempts.
  • Suicide rates are approximately three times higher among men compared to women.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth and young adults (15-34 years).
  • For every death by suicide, at least seven to 10 survivors are significantly affected by the loss.
  • Twelve percent of Canadians have thoughts of suicide in their lifetimes; 2.6 percent had suicidal thoughts in the past year.
  • Two percent have planned suicide in their lifetimes; 0.8 percent have planned suicide in the past year.
  • One percent have attempted suicide in their lifetimes; 0.3 percent have attempted suicide in the past year.
  • In Canada, men and boys have higher rates or risk of suicide.


Increased Suicide Risks
  • Prior suicide attempt(s)
  • Mental illness like depression
  • A sense of hopelessness or helplessness
    • this means that you believe your life or current situation won’t improve
  • Misuse of alcohol or substances
  • Chronic (long-term) physical pain or illness
  • Trauma, for example:
    • violence
    • victimization, like bullying
    • childhood abuse or neglect
    • suicide by a family member or friend
    • events that affect multiple generations of your family

Other factors that can increase the risk of suicide include:

  • Significant loss, including:
    • personal (relationships)
    • social
    • cultural
    • financial (job loss)
  • Major life changes or stressors, such as:
    • unemployment
    • homelessness
    • poor physical health or physical illness
    • the death of a loved one
    • harassment
    • discrimination
  • Lack of access to or availability of mental health servicesPersonal identity struggles (sexual, cultural)
  • lack of support from family, friends, or your community
  • sense of isolation


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