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The Saddleback Church Family Launches Petition to Raise Awareness of Mental Health


Pastor Rick Warren and the family at Saddleback Church have made a proactive response to the suicide death of their son Matthew, starting a petition on the church’s website to raise awareness about mental illness. The pastor and his wife have also started a foundation on mental health in their son’s honor, naming it after him. Warren’s 27-year-old son shot himself after a lifelong battle with mental illness and depression.

The Saddleback family has taken this loss pretty hard. Yet their response is inspiring, aiming to raise the awareness and lower the stigmas associated with mental illness. They are urging educators, healthcare professionals, church leaders, congregations, and lawmakers to rally for this cause and support families who deal with mental illness on a regular basis. The petition carries a picture of Matthew Warren, who took his own life April 5.

Millions of Americans suffered from severe mental illness last year – as many as 11.4 million adults. The petition itself acts as a channel to raise awareness reminding us all that “in fact, one in five Americans experiences some sort of mental illness.” The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez reminds people, “This tragedy facilitates an opportunity if not an obligation for the Christian Community to address mental illness. Mental illness exists in and outside the church community,” he said. “Christians struggle with depression and even suicidal thoughts. It doesn’t make you less of a Christian…neither does mental illness.” However, some Christians are ashamed to seek help with their condition.

Mental health has made a move into the national spotlight this year after the tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut and elsewhere. Many people were saying that with better mental health care available, such tragedies could have been prevented. Now congress is taking action, sending forth legislation that would sustain or improve current mental health programs. The legislation even calls for new studies to be undertaken in the field of mental health.

Despite Matthew’s unfortunate act and his long struggle with mental illness, he will certainly be well-remembered. Conservative Christian doctrine would dictate that anyone who commits suicide must go to hell, but some in the Christian community would disagree.

What’s important is that we give attention to those suffering from mental illness and stress to them that suicide does not lead to the pearly gates of heaven.  Mental illness is not always permanent, but alas, suicide is. I hope that Matthew’s death was not in vain and that by it, lives will be saved.



Cunningham, Paige Winfield. “Senate OK’s Mental Health Amendment to Gun Bill.” Politico, 19 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.

Kumar, Anugrah. “Rick Warren Launches Petition to Raise Awareness of Mental Illness.” The Christian Post, 18 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 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, Life, Mental Illness, Spirituality, Treatment · Tags: mental illness, Pastor Rick Warren, religion and mental illness, Saddleback Church Family, spirituality and mental illness, suicide and Matthew Warren

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