Matthew Warren, 27, son of evangelist, "Rick Warren" commits suicide by gunshot
After a lifelong battle with mental illness, the youngest son of Pastor Rick Warren has committed suicide, his family said. Matthew Warren, 27, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, said Deputy Daniel Aikin, with the Orange County Coroner's Office.
The family shared news of his death in an e-mail to church staff. Rick Warren and his wife founded Saddleback Valley Community Church, a megachurch in Southern California. "No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," the pastor wrote in the note, a copy of which was sent to CNN.
"You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He'd then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them.
"But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided."
According to Aikin, Matthew Warren's body was found at his home in Mission Viejo, California, late Friday afternoon. He put the estimated time of death at around 10 a.m. that day. The coroner's office is investigating the death. An autopsy will be conducted early next week, Aikin told CNN on Saturday.
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According to a spokesman for Rick Warren, Matthew Warren worked in the Saddleback Resources Warehouse, which distributes books and DVDs. Matthew Warren's uncle, Tom Holladay, preached at the church Saturday night. He thanked members for coming and said that "we're facing it as a family."
"We're going to be real together about our hurts, and we're going to be real together about the thing that only He can give us: Hope in the face of anything and everything," Holladay said. As a pioneer of the megachurch movement, Rick Warren looked to translate traditional evangelical messages to a wider audience.
The pastor gave the invocation at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration and penned "The Purpose-Driven Life," a Christian self-help guide that became a mainstream best-seller. "I'll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said 'Dad, I know I'm going to heaven. Why can't I just die and end this pain?' but he kept going for another decade," Rick Warren wrote in the e-mail.
In a separate statement, his church asked for prayers and that "God's comfort and peace" be with the Warren family.
The son of popular American evangelical pastor Rick Warren has committed suicide after a life-long struggle with depression and mental illness, according to a letter sent by Warren and his wife, Kay, to the staff of his Saddleback Valley Community Church.
Matthew Warren, 27, took his own life in "a momentary wave of despair at his home" after a "fun evening" with his parents, Warren said in a statement on Saturday. "Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words," Warren wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday.
Along with leading the Saddleback Church based in Lake Forest, California, Warren is author of the best-selling book "The Purpose Driven Life." He delivered an invocation at President Barack Obama's first inauguration in January 2009.
Warren described his son as an "incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room." Warren said in his statement that all his life, his son had struggled with mental illness, depression and suicidal thoughts.
"In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided," he said.
The Orange County, California, Coroner's office responded to Warren's home in Mission Viejo at 10 a.m. on Friday, according to the agency's records. The City News Service in Los Angeles said Warren was found dead of a self-inflicted gun-shot wound.
Saddleback, one of the largest evangelical churches in the United States, is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. About 20,000 people attend weekly services at the main campus in Lake Forest, California, and at seven other churches located throughout southern California.
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