Saddleback Church Rick Warren disclosed today that his 27-year-old son had committed suicide Friday after a lifelong bout with mental illness.
“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now,” Warren wrote in an emotional email to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., “Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.”
"Over the past 33 years we've been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I've been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayer for us," Warren begin the email to the church staffs.
Warren said his son 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,” he wrote. “Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his own life.”
Warren said that he and his wife often marveled at Matthew's courage "to keep moving in spite of relentless 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?' but he kept going for another decade," he wrote.
Warren described his deceased son as "an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man."
Evangelist Greg Laurie, whose son, Christopher, was killed in a car accident at the age of 33 nearly five years ago, wrote on his blog: "I too have had a son die, so I have a sense of the pain Rick and Kay are facing. But their circumstances are different and my heart goes out to them. At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word. There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel. God is with us. I know the Lord will be there for all of the Warren family and Saddleback Church as they grieve together. Looking forward to that day when God will 'Restore all things.' (Acts 3:21)"
In a statement from Saddleback, the church asks that everyone "join us in praying for the entire Warren family and that God's comfort and peace will be with them as they deal with this difficult situation."
Around 11 a.m. on Saturday, Warren posted on his Facebook page, "We pray 'Thy WILL be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN' since in heaven God's Will is done #always. On earth, it's done rarely."
Friends and followers replied with outpouring support.
Pastor Warren, 59, author of the Purpose Driven Life, which is the best-selling hardback non-fiction book in history and the second most-translated book in the world, after the Bible, has two other adult children, Amy and Josh, and five grandchildren.