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Pastor Rick Warren’s Son Takes Own Life


The son of prolific megachurch pastor Rick Warren has claimed his own life this week as national statistics suggest that suicide is claiming more young American lives. Dying of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, 27-year-old Matthew Warren ended it all after a long battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Deputy Daniel Aikin, with the Orange County Coroner’s Office, made the report last Friday.

A pioneer of the megachurch movement, Pastor Rick Warren was propelled into the national spotlight and his popularity soared after he administered the invocation in 2009 in Washington D.C. for incoming President-elect Barack Obama. The southern California megachurch he started, Saddleback Church, has since grown in National influence and popularity. Anything associated with Obama has enjoyed huge national popularity ever since his election, so Warren and his church have been on top since then, riding the wave of national popularity all the way back to Southern California.

For the Warren family to lose one of its members to suicide is almost unthinkable for most churchgoers and friends of the family. However, the death of its youngest member, however tragic and unthinkable, is indicative of a national trend or rising rates of suicide among young people.

Matthew Warren had been battling suicide for a long time. According to one source he had “struggled from birth with dark holes of depression, mental illness and even suicidal thoughts.” This goes to show that even when people are in treatment, they can quickly digress to a dangerous place where they want to take their own life.

As a peer of Matthew and as someone who may have been like him, I can barely grasp why he would actually carry out such an act. First of all, I question the health of his relationship with his father, Rick. Was he overlooked somehow, being the youngest in the family? Since leading a church and being a father are similar in nature, you would suspect that someone who made such an exemplary church leader as Rick would also excel at parenting. Why would you want to commit suicide if your dad knew the president? Wouldn’t  that make you really popular?

There must be an underlying cause that contributed to Matthew’s suicide, but at this point the public has to respect the family’s privacy. Very little has been said up to now. “No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now,” the pastor wrote in a note.

Warren’s son was in treatment. Actually, he was probably receiving some of the best treatment available from top doctors, taking medications, undergoing counseling and receiving prayers for healing. None of that worked, sadly, and his mental illness never subsided.

Matthew worked in the church’s distribution warehouse, which distributes the church’s DVDs and other literature. With his father as the church’s founder and CEO, it looked like a positive path for Matthew.

The national trend has been heading in the opposite direction though, data shows. Suicide rates and mental health issues among young people have been on the rise, whether as part of the military or otherwise.

The church is very sad, and a shockwave of devastation will likely travel through the church. I sincerely hope that families with members like Matthew who suffer from depression will respond in a way that will be supportive to their loved ones. Let us hope and pray that somehow this tragic event will somehow serve the greater good by creating an awareness of mental health issues and ultimately saving lives.



Chappell, Bill. “U.S. Military’s Suicide Rate Surpassed Combat Deaths In 2012.” NPR, 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.

Ford, Dana, Janet DiGiacomo, and Eric Marrapodi. “Son of Pastor Rick Warren Commits Suicide, Family Says.” CNN. Cable News Network, 07 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.

Rattue, Grace. “Suicide Rates Highest In 15 Years, US.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 20 Feb. 2012. Web. 09 Apr. 2013.

Written by

Kevin Giles is a product of Santa Cruz, CA – the stoner capitol of the world. A born again Christian, Kevin loves his Lord Jesus and believes that his purpose in life is determined by God. He first entered drug recovery at the age of 19, suffering from an addiction to marijuana. He is a recent graduate of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned his Master’s degree in Christian Ministry. Passionate about God’s Word, he aspires to become a pastor or missionary. Kevin has also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Monterey Bay. His interests include traveling, movies, golf, fitness and reading. He also enjoys being outdoors as well as spending time with friends and family. Kevin’s faith, education and life experience give him a unique perspective on addiction, recovery and spirituality.

Filed under: Conditions and Disorders, Latest News, Mental Illness · Tags: Barack Obama, counseling, depression, Matthew Warren, medications, megachurch, mental health issues, mental illness, Pastor Rick Warren, President Barack Obama, Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, suicidal thougths, suicide, Treatment

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