Rick Warren’s son is being remembered for his playful spirit and deep battles with depression that ultimately led the 27-year-old to take his own life.
Matthew Warren had reportedly struggled with mental illness for many years and had contemplated taking his own life in the past. Rick Warren, the pastor of the evangelical megachurch in Lake Forest California known as Saddleback Church, spoke in brief about those troubles in an email to staff members notifying them of Matthew’s death.
“At 27 years of age, Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many,” Rick Warren wrote. “Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts … We ask everyone to join us in praying for the entire Warren family and that God’s comfort and peace will be with them as they deal with this difficult situation.”
Warren added that Matthew had long been treated for his battles with depression.
“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.”
Friends remembered Matthew Warren as having a light and easygoing nature but also deep troubles.
“There are the days where he was just this bubbly, outgoing, effervescent, reaching out to people,” said friend Mike Constantz. “And there were the days where he just didn’t want to be around people. Just the pain, the excruciating pain, was just too much.”
Aside from leading the large congregation at Saddleback, Rick Warren is also the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life and other inspirational books. He has also delved into politics, holding a presidential forum in 2008 for candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.
Rick Warren’s son was found dead on Friday morning of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. An autopsy will be conducted this week.