Pastor Rick Warren's Son Commits Suicide

Matthew Warren, 27, battled depression and mental health issues.

The 27-year-old son of noted evangelical pastor Rick Warren has died, Warren’s church said Saturday. Matthew Warren committed suicide after dealing with mental health issues and depression, Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement.

"Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many," the statement said.

"Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life."

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In an email to his church staff, Rick Warren said he and his wife had enjoyed a Friday evening with their son. Then in "a momentary wave of despair,” Matthew Warren decided to take his life. The pastor said their family had pursued a number of treatment options for his son’s depression, and recalled his son despairing after yet  another one of them failed to alleviate his pain.

"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?'" Warren recalled. "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."

Rick Warren is known as the author of the best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. His Lake Forrest, Calif. Church hosted a 2008 forum for presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain, and he gained national attention for his invocation at Obama’s 2009 inauguration. A video recorded in 2008 showed Warren making statements in favor of California’s Prop 8, which overturned gay marriage in the state. In late 2012, Warren said he regretted that those comments had been made public beyond his church’s walls.

"If you disagree with somebody today you're often called a hater," Warren told The Huffington Post "I don't really hate anybody. Or you're called 'phobic.' I'm not afraid of anybody. I have many, many gay friends."