Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and his wife are grieving. Their youngest son, Matthew, was a victim of mental illness, which led the young adult to suicide this past spring. Matthew, age 27, had suffered his entire life with severe depression and a personality disorder. He wanted to die and he found a way. The disparity of the disease became too much for Matthew to bear as he chose to end his life with a fatal gunshot. His mental illness is blamed for his death.
Rick Warren is the pastor of one of the largest mega churches in the United States. He is of conservation thinking and stands for family values, voicing his stance on abortion and same sex marriage. Rick is also laid back and easy going, often preaching in a casual shirt as opposed to a three piece suit. He has gained popularity over the years with his best selling books in the Purpose Driven Life series. The books focus on happy living and positive thinking in all areas of life. His income from the books has reached nearly $36 million, allowing Rick to decline a regular salary from the church. Sadly, the message Rick imparts was of no help to his own son. Matthew did not choose to be depressed and confused, he had an illness that was beyond his control.
Rick and Kay Warren knew the youngest of their three children suffered from mental illness from a young age. Although Matthew tried to fit in and do the work he believed in, he struggled with doubt over how God did not heal him. He even asked his parents to help him die years ago. The Warrens were caught in the tornado of helping their son live and preventing his death, all the while knowing it could happen. They sought treatment for Matthew, but medicine would only go so far, as mental illness is not usually cured. The never ending feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness was a purpose Matthew did not want for his own life.
Even with ongoing support, a patient with mental illness feels overwhelming anxiety and is in a constant battle to escape from their tormented life. Mental illness is most difficult to treat and many sufferers reach the point of no return. Matthew had unsuccessfully tried to take his own life with pills a short time before his death. In the weeks leading up to his final day, he was able to purchase a handgun over the internet. His parents were aware he had the gun, but paced themselves with prayer for a turn around. Matthew resorted to desperate measures and the inevitable occurred in April of 2013.
After taking some months to grieve and reflect, the Warrens have begun their mission to help other families deal with the tragic disease. They understand what happened even though they still may never know why. Rick even went so far as to forgive the person that sold the handgun to Matthew. As for Matthew, his state of mental disability most likely would have resulted in death from any option he chose. Mental illness has a multitude of variations and manifests itself in different ways in the individual that suffers from the disorder. All loved ones can do many times is just to be there. The purpose of life to is love and be loved in any way we are driven.
For help with a loved one that is contemplating suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon