Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren participates in a panel discussion during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 26, 2008. Established by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2005, the event is designed to bring donors together with people in need to try to solve global problems. (Photo : REUTERS/Chip East)
World renowned Pastor Rick Warren confirmed that his youngest son, Matthew, has committed suicide.
Warren, an evangelical leader at the Saddleback Valley Community mega-church in Southern California and a bestselling author, announced the tragic death Saturday morning via an email sent to his church staff.
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"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," wrote the Christian clergyman speaking of himself and his wife Kay.
He described his 27-year-old son, who suffered from mental illness, as "an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many." Throughout his life, Matthew suffered from deep depression and suicidal thoughts, said Warren.
"Despite the best healthcare available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life," reads the statement. "After a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life."
"We ask everyone to join us in praying for the entire Warren family and that God's comfort and peace will be with them as they deal with this difficult situation," the statement continued.
The 59-year-old pastor authored "The Purpose Driven Life" which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, according to the church's website. It is also the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history and the second most-translated book in the world after the Bible.
Warren and his wife have two other adult children, Amy and Josh, and five grandchildren.