1352: My Father’s Death by Suicide as BYU-Idaho Dean – The Brennan and Kip Harris Story

Brennan Harris’ dad, Kip Brower Harris, took his own life on January 9, 2019, while he was employed as Dean of Students at Brigham Young University – Idaho.  During his 30 year career at BYU Idaho, Kip Harris had served twice as a Mormon bishop, served in a Mormon Stake Presidency, and was personal friends with LDS Church apostle David Bednar.

In the final years of his second term as bishop, Kip Harris became involved in an extra-marital affair with a neighbor and ward member.  Inexplicably, when Kip Harris was found in a car with this neighbor/ward member by a Sugar City police officer, this police officer informed Kip Harris’ LDS church leaders (violating the separation of church and state).  Kip Harris’ church leaders, in turn, notified Harris’ employer (BYU Idaho), who then put Kip Harris on leave (threatening to fire him).  This horrific sequence of confidentiality violations led Kip Harris to feel like his only option was to take his own life, which he did in January of 2019.  Press coverage of Kip Harris’ death can be found here and here.

Brennan Harris, Kip’s son, believes that the LDS Church, BYU Idaho, and Sugar City police are all partially responsible for his father’s death.  Brennan has written publicly about his father’s story at these links:

This is Brennan’s story.

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  1. I haven’t listened to this podcast and I may not at all, as I have lost a loved one to suicide, but I wanted to say that I am so very sorry for Brennan’s loss and for the loss that he, his family, and his family’s friends are suffering. We survivors of suicide (the loved ones who suffer the loss) are, unfortunately, becoming less rare, but I think it is important to be cognizant of how complicated our grieving is, when sharing these stories. I hope that everyone will be kind to all who are grieving Kip Harris’ death. Heartfelt wishes to you all!

    1. Dear Laura,

      I am sorry for your loss. You are right. Your grief is complicated… and really, never truly over. I hope you are at peace, or on the way there. With my own losses, it has sometimes taken years, and sometimes decades… but eventually… I have gotten better.

      Be well. ((((Hugs))))


  2. Dear Brennan,

    I am very sorry for your loss. Having heard about your dad’s life, I can’t help but think he had so many things he would have loved to share with you and your siblings, and ALL the people who loved him, in future years. You have represented Kip Brower Harris very well. My heart reaches out to you… and no prayers from this atheist… just lots and lots of compassion and understanding.

    Brennan, I wish you all the best in the years to come!!! ((((Hugs))))

    And, for anyone else reading this… please, I urge you to NOT go to ANY therapist who has not had therapy as a requirement of training. Therapists MUST be healthy to be proficient in a role that requires a healthy relationship (a relationship between client and therapist, patient and doctor, seeker and healer). A therapist/doctor/healer cannot truly empathize with the client/patient/seeker if they have not been THAT VULNERABLE themselves!! I was required to have therapy during both my masters and doctoral studies in Counseling and Clinical Psychology. And that was in the 80’s!!!! I accept the benefit and growth that John reports from therapy for him and his family, and recommend that people do not wait until they are desperate. Coaching is good for baseball, and it’s good for LIFE! We can all be better!

    XO Debbie

  3. An horrific experience. Everything in this experience is complex. It underscores why middle aged men are in such a high risk for suicide, they often have alot to lose and not alot of time for a do-over. I am the same age as this man and once found myself in a similar situation. I fought through and reinvented my life. I suffered and my family suffered, but a new day dawned. Every day that we are above ground we have hope, we have the chance for a “do-over”, our story can still be worked on, improved and expanded. Time really does heal all wounds. An instant of fear, anger, humiliation and embarrassment can have a life altering effect.

  4. There have been two suicides within my extended Mormon family. In my opinion the church is a form of social engineering, (which is not good, especially in the absence of any democratic process) but worse yet the system is run by people who don’t know what they are doing, and unintended consequences follow.

  5. Love & support to your family. Thank you so much for sharing. This literally changed my life. I have had some serious ideations this year. If my thoughts go down that road, I will ask for help. Thank you.

  6. Brennan I am so sorry for your loss. I lost a brother to death by suicide, and as you said, it’s complicated. I appreciate your honesty, openness, and willingness to share. Twenty-five-plus years after the death of my brother, it is still so hard to process. Thinking of you and your family and wishing you all much comfort during this time. I send my heartfelt condolences. John Dehlin – your podcast is INCREDIBLE, thank you, thank you, thank you for the amazing work that you are doing. You continue to touch lives in such a positive way. Best, Holly

  7. Taylor Ballard

    I am new to Mormon Stories Podcast, but being from the Rexburg Bubble, I KNEW I had to listen to this when I came across it. I feel so much for you, Brennan, and am so sorry that you and your family had to go through that. I’m sorry for the parts that YOU personally had to deal with on your own before contacting others. There’s a piece of this story that belongs to only you; that no one else gets to relate to, and you had to go through that yourself, and I’m so sorry. You’re a strong inspiration and though the dark memories will never fade, being able to hear you speak about this with such maturity and rawness was a blessing. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story. It helps those you don’t even know!

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