Matthew Warren, Rick Warren’s youngest son, has committed suicide at the age of 27 after a long battle with depression.
It was reported that the estimated time of Matthew Warren’s death was Friday at 10 a.m. and said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, revealed his son’s death to his church on Saturday.
“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now,” the pastor told his congregation in a statement, pleading for their prayers as the family mourned.
Rick Warren revealed in a statement that Matthew had struggled with mental illness from a young age, experiencing “dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts”.
Despite countless doctors and medication, “the torture of mental illness never subsided”.
“Kay and I often marveled at his 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,” Rick Warren continued.
Rick Warren is married to Kay, who is active in her husband’s ministry, and they have two other adult children, Amy and Joshua, and five grandchildren.
He said that the tragic event occurred after Matthew had spent time with the couple on Thursday.
“In a momentary wave of despair at his home [in Mission Viejo, California], he took his life.”
The Coroner’s office said that an autopsy would be conducted next week on either Monday or Tuesday.
Rick Warren frequently communicates via his Twitter account but did not post any messages on Friday.
On Saturday afternoon, the pastor posted this tweet referencing the Lord’s Prayer.
“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,” seemingly in response to the family’s tragic loss.
Rick Warren, 59, is one of the leading voices in the evangelical movement in America.
His church, located in Orange County, is ranked the seventh largest congregation in the U.S. with an average weekly attendance of 20,000.
The Southern Baptist pastor authored the Purpose Driven Life, a devotional study book, that was published in 2002 and became a New York Times bestseller, selling over 32 million copies as it exploded as a popular trend among conservative Christians.
Rick Warren has taken an active role in promoting social justice and even hosted the Civil Forum on The Presidency, attended by both Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and then Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during the 2008 presidential election.
Pastor Rick Warren was also selected to deliver the invocation at President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
His wife, Kay Warren, helped him establish the evangelical church in 1980.