LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) — 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."
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