Rypien was born in Blairmore, Alberta, a community within the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta on May 16, 1984. Throughout his career, Rypien earned a reputation as a tough and hardworking player. With the Canucks, he was a fourth-line forward, providing energy with his speed on the forecheck, aggression and fighting abilities – attributes that made him a fan favourite throughout his junior and professional career, but also contributed to his injury troubles.
Struggling with clinical depression throughout his career, Rypien's mental health was eventually made known to the Vancouver Canucks organization during their 2008 training camp; the team consequently coordinated his treatment for the remainder of his tenure with the team. Among his teammates, Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa was the first Rypien confided in regarding his depression.
A month-and-a-half after signing with the Winnipeg Jets, a family member found Rypien dead in his Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, home on August 15, 2011. The cause of death was confirmed as suicide. Following his death, Heisinger told media that Rypien had been suffering from depression for more than ten years. Jason Jaffray, a former Moose and Canucks teammate who had also recently signed with Winnipeg, expressed surprise at Rypien's death, explaining that while he was aware of his mental health, he felt he was "a new man and...the happiest [he'd] ever seen him."
Several hours after his death was announced, Canucks fans began assembling a memorial outside of Rogers Arena. Rypien's memorial service was held at Alberta Stella Arena (where he had played his minor hockey) in Blairmore, Alberta, on August 20. Bieksa was on hand as one of the casket's pall bearers. He was one of numerous former teammates, general managers and figures from Rypien's hockey career in attendance. In the subsequent 2011–12 NHL season, the Canucks honoured Rypien with a ceremony prior to a home game against the New York Rangers on October 18.