Church: Pastor Rick Warren’s son commits suicide

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — The 27-year-old son of popular evangelical Pastor Rick Warren has committed suicide at his Southern California home, Warren’s church and authorities said on Saturday.

Matthew Warren struggled with mental illness, deep depression and suicidal thoughts throughout his life, Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement. His body was found in his Mission Viejo home Friday night, said Allison O’Neal, a supervising deputy coroner for Orange County. She declined to release the cause and manner of death pending an autopsy of the young man.

“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,” the church statement said.

Rick Warren, the author of the multimillion-selling book “The Purpose Driven Life,” said in an email to church staff that he and his wife had enjoyed a fun Friday evening with their son. But their son then returned home to take his life in “a momentary wave of despair.”

Over the years, Matthew Warren had been treated by America’s best doctors, had received counseling and medication and been the recipient of numerous prayers from others, his father said.

“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.

Despite that, he said, his son lived for another decade, during which he often reached out to help others.

“You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man,” Warren wrote. “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.”

The elder Warren founded Saddleback Church in 1980, according to his biography on the church website, and over the years watched it grow to 20,000 members. He and his wife, Kay, began by holding Bible studies for people who weren’t regular churchgoers.

Matthew Warren was the youngest of their three children.

As Saddleback grew over the years, it spread out from its Lake Forest headquarters, 65 miles southeast of Los Angeles, adding several other campuses and ministries around Southern California.

The church says it now offers more than 200 community ministries and support groups for parents, families, children, couples, prisoners, addicts, and people living with HIV, depression and other illnesses.

In 2008, the church sponsored a presidential forum with Barack Obama and John McCain. Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were invited to a similar forum last fall, but Warren canceled it several days beforehand, saying the campaign had become too uncivil.

Warren was named the top newsmaker of the year for 2009 by the Religion Newswriters Association. He gained attention that year with his invocation at Obama’s inauguration, as well as with comments he made in the aftermath of California’s Proposition 8, which overturned gay marriage.

More in Local News

A Democrat and ex-Republican team up to end two-party politics

Brian Baird and Chris Vance unveil a new organization called Washington Independents.

The beavers weren’t happy, either, about Mill Creek flooding

A tree fell on their dam, sending a rush of water into a neighborhood near Jackson High School.

Stranger offered candy to student walking home from school

The Granite Falls School District is warning families about… Continue reading

Coming together as family

Special-needs students and teachers at the Transition Center cooked up a Thanksgiving feast.

Lynnwood’s property tax promise to homeowners sort of true

They were told consolidation of fire departments would save, but new rates likely will be more.

Woman who died in 5-car crash identified

A car driven by Susan E. Sill rear-ended another vehicle Wednesday on Smokey Point Boulevard.

Man convicted of 4 counts of wire fraud, 1 count of embezzlement

He siphoned away more than $50,000 from the U.S. Naval Seat Cadet Corps.

Couple marries where they had their first date: the hospital

The Marysville couple had planned to be married twice before but their plans were waylaid.

Aerospace workers adjust to changing industry

The number of Boeing workers dropped almost 10 percent since last year

Most Read