Lake Forest, California — Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book The Purpose-Driven Life, and his wife Kay have lost their 27-year-old son to suicide.
Warren announced the death today in an email to staff members at Saddleback Church.
“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now,” he began, noting that Matthew Warren took his life Friday night. “Over the past 33 years we’ve been together through every kind of crisis. Kay and I’ve been privileged to hold your hands as you faced a crisis or loss, stand with you at gravesides, and prayed for you when ill. Today, we need your prayers for us.”
“At 27 years of age, Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many,” Saddleback outlined a separate statement to the media. “Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.”
“Despite the best healthcare available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life,” it continued.
Warren reflected on the life of his son, stating that he always cared for others even when he was in pain himself.
“You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man,” he recalled. “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.”
“But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts,” Warren continued. “In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.”
He said that he and his wife often marveled at their son’s courage to fight life’s battles despite his condition.
“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,” Warren stated. “Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.”
“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,” Saddleback requested.
Rick and Kay have two other children, Josh and Amy, as well as five grandchildren.