Saddleback Valley Community Church is mourning the loss of one of their own, Pastor Rick Warren's 27-year-old son, Matthew. The Lake Forest, Calif., church said in a statement on Saturday, April 6, that Matthew Warren had committed suicide one night earlier after a long struggle with mental illness.
"Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many," the statement read. "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."
In a message to church members about the tragedy on Friday, April 5, Pastor Warren, 59, wrote that he and his wife had tried to get their son help over the years, to no avail. "In spite of America's best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided," he said.
Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, added that Matthew's last day had been a good one, and that their family had spent a "fun evening together." His son's decision to commit suicide, he explained, came "in a momentary wave of despair at his home."
Matthew was the evangelical pastor's youngest child with wife Kay Warren. The couple also have two older kids, Amy and Josh.