Rick Warren and his family need our prayers and love; son suicides

Christian leaders mourn with Rick Warren over son’s suicide

Pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren tells his congregation, "Today, we need your prayer for us."

Pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren tells his congregation, “Today, we need your prayer for us.”

Megachurch pastor and author Rick Warren’s son, Matthew (27), committed suicide on Friday night after struggling with mental health issues for decades. Warren sent the following email to his Saddleback Church congregation and staff:

To my dear Saddleback Family,

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 prayer for us. No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now. Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.

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 beeline 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. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.

Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. 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.

Thank you for your love and prayers. We love you back.

Pastor Rick

The author of The Purpose Driven Life’sFacebook page has beenflooded with condolences, and Christian leaders from across the spectrum have taken to Twitter to express their sadness and support:







Pastor Greg Laurie, who also knows the pain of losing a son, wrote a note of sympathy on his blog as well. “At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word. There is no manual, but there is Emmanuel. God is with us,” Laurie said. “I know the Lord will be there for all of the Warren family and Saddleback Church as they grieve together. Looking forward to that day when God will ‘Restore all things’.”

As the Warren family grieves the loss of their son, they are joined by the tens of millions who’ve been touched by the sermons, books, and ministry of the man they affectionately call “Pastor Rick.”

Image of Matthew Warren courtesy of Saddleback

Image of Matthew Warren courtesy of Saddleback Church

*UPDATE: According to NBC News and Supervising Deputy Dan Aikin of the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s Department, the cause of death appears to be suicide by gunshot. “The estimated time of death was 10 a.m. on Friday morning,” NBC reports. “The sheriff’s department was called to the home at about 5:15 p.m., Aikin told NBC. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.”*

5 thoughts on “Rick Warren and his family need our prayers and love; son suicides

  1. Rev 21:14

    “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

    Isaiah 25:8

    He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

  2. God’s love, grace and mercy to the whole family and church.

    We mourn with those who mourn.

  3. This must be a huge loss for the family and I can only pray the Lord will comfort them.

    I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago that suicide is such a part of the human condition. A decade or two it would probably have been hushed up or spoken of in euphemism. There are many suicides each day in my city, but until recently they were not reported in any news outlet – there was self-censorship for fear that it would trigger others to do the same thing.

    There is now an increasing awareness that it is a serious and growing problem among our young people. Four Corners did a story on it last year with Prof McGorry addressing a large audience of bereaved parents in Melbourne’s south-east. He said that suicide is almost becoming an epidemic among young people and that they don’t really know why. Psychiatry is such a young and complicated branch of medicine that they don’t even have the language or concepts to describe the problem – much less the solution.

    One of the few good things that can come of this is that the Warren’s are open and transparent about their son’s struggles and mental health. By doing this they show that all families may have to come to grips with these issues, and that they are not some exceptional leader-family who has escaped all of that by being ‘godly’. I think many an idealistic young person has looked up to images of Christian leaders and tried to emulate them thinking that it will automatically solve their own problems.

  4. I knew a family at my pentecostal charismatic church who’s son committed suicide. Son also was a life long member of the church.

    When the news broke out to our congregation, the family got the obligatory “I am praying for you”, “I send my condolences”, etc. etc.

    However, behind their backs, people offered various interpretations :
    1) The family had very strong faith, always generous with their giving of money and time to the church and so they were on Satan’s top list of target and the family allowed Satan to succeed.

    2) The family lacked faith and didn’t pray hard enough, so God allowed it to happen in order to develop their character and to strengthen their dependency on Jesus.

    It turned out that my church had a high profile visiting pastor and the son sought for the pastor’s personal healing. Son was told he was completely healed after casting out the demons in him. Son stopped taking his medication. A few weeks later he took his own life.

    I’m puzzled as to why the family didn’t decide the sue the church and the visiting pastor. I no longer see the family around the church. I heard various stories like “they’ve gone to another church” to “they stopped going to church”.

  5. that’s an horrendous outcome for that family, and doesn;t surprise me to hear – so many church communities, so many people in general believe there must ahve been something wrong in the family for the child to suicide. It’s just plain wrong and placing more blame on the shoulders of people who will already be blaming themselves.

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