Matthew Warren, 27, son of prominent evangelist pastor

Matthew Warren struggled with mental illness and deep depression for years.
Saddleback Valley Community Church
Matthew Warren struggled with mental illness and deep depression for years.

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Matthew Warren, the 27-year-old son of Rick Warren, the popular evangelist pastor of a Southern California church, died Friday.

The Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement Saturday that Mr. Warren, who had struggled with mental illness and deep depression for many years, took his own life.

‘‘Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many,’’ the statement said.


‘‘Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life.’’

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Rick Warren, the author of the multimillion-selling book ‘‘The Purpose Driven Life,’’ said in an e-mail to church staff that he and his wife had enjoyed a fun Friday evening with their son before Matthew Warren returned home to take his life in ‘‘a momentary wave of despair.’’

Church spokeswoman Kristin Cole said he died Friday night.

Over the years, Mr. Warren had been treated by America’s best doctors, had received counseling and medication and been the recipient of numerous prayers from others, his father said.

Still, he struggled over the years.


‘‘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?’ ’’ his father recalled.

Despite that, he said, his son lived for another decade, during which he often reached out to help others.

‘‘You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man,’’ his father wrote. ‘‘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.’’