The 27-year-old son of the Rev. Rick Warren, one of America's most influential religious leaders, committed suicide, Mr. Warren said in an e-mail released on Saturday to staff members and congregants at his 20,000-member Saddleback Valley Community Church.
Rick Warren said in the e-mail that his youngest son, Matthew, had "struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts." After a happy evening with his parents, the e-mail said, "in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life."
Mr. Warren said that he and his wife, Kay, often marveled at Matthew Warren's "courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. 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?' but he kept going for another decade."
Rick Warren is the author of popular books like "The Purpose Driven Life." He was chosen to administer the invocation at President Obama's inauguration in 2009. Liberal and gay rights groups complained at the time, citing Mr. Warren's opposition to abortion and gay rights. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he moderated a forum on social issues and personal world views with Mr. Obama and his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain.
Mr. Warren's church, based in Orange County, Calif., and one of America's largest evangelical congregations, said in a separate statement that it "deeply grieved for the loss of Pastor Rick and Kay Warren upon hearing of the death of their youngest son, Matthew."
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.