April 6th, 2013
05:20 PM ET
Son of Pastor Rick Warren commits suicide, family says
By the CNN Wire staff
(CNN) -After a lifelong battle with mental illness, the youngest son of Pastor Rick Warren has committed suicide, his family said.
Matthew Warren, 27, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, said Deputy Daniel Aikin, with the Orange County Coroner's Office.
The family shared news of his death in an e-mail to church staff.
Rick Warren and his wife founded Saddleback Valley Community Church, a megachurch in Southern California.
"No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," the pastor wrote in the note, a copy of which was sent to CNN.
"You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man. 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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"But only those closest knew that he 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."
According to Aikin, Matthew Warren's body was found at his home in Mission Viejo, California, late Friday afternoon. He put the estimated time of death at around 10 a.m. that day.
The coroner's office is investigating the death. An autopsy will be conducted early next week, Aikin told CNN on Saturday.
According to a spokesman for Rick Warren, Matthew Warren worked in the Saddleback Resources Warehouse, which distributes books and DVDs.
As a pioneer of the megachurch movement, Rick Warren looked to translate traditional evangelical messages to a wider audience.
The pastor gave the invocation at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration and penned "The Purpose-Driven Life," a Christian self-help guide that became a mainstream best-seller.
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"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 wrote in the e-mail.
In a separate statement, his church asked for prayers and that "God's comfort and peace" be with the Warren family.
A spokesman for Warren provided a copy of a letter Warren sent to members of his staff:
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I feel very badly for his family and that he was suffering so much. Very sad.
My sincere condolences to Pastor Warren and family on the lost of theirs son. Now his work on earth is done. He has gone home to meet his saviour. There he will never be alone seated round His father's throne.
Dear Pastor Rick and Kay, Please know my heart and prayers go out to you today. I will always keep you and your dear son in my constant prayers. God bless you! "God did not call him home, but He welcomed him." "Yaweh is close to the broken hearted, He lifts those up , whose spirits are crushed. " You are not alone, "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble." Hold on to the truth that you know! God loves you, and so do I!
Wow, this is sad, but he did make a choice to take his own life. May the Lord be with his parents.
Blessings and Peace to you Matt.