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Rick Warren takes on 'haters' in wake of son's suicide

April 08, 2013|From a Times staff writer

Rick Warren, the famed pastor who on Saturday announced that his son had committed suicide, thanked well-wisher for their kind words but also took on "haters" who have used the news to lash out.

"Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest," Warren wrote on Facebook Monday night. "Your notes sustained us Grieving is hard."

Warren has been deluged with words of support both at his Saddleback Church in Orange County and on the Web. “Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words,” Warren wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

Matthew Warren, 27, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Orange County coroner said Monday.

On Saturday, Warren's emotional message to his congregation paid tribute to his son, who he said died after battling mental illness.

"Today after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his own life," Warren said.

The death at the younger Warren's home on Pradera Drive in Mission Viejo was reported to Orange County Sheriff’s Department officials about 5:25 p.m. Friday, said Supervising Deputy Coroner Dan Aikin.

In his statement to his congregation, Warren talked about how "only those closest knew that [Matthew] struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, even suicidal thoughts."

He described his son as a "kind, gentle and compassionate man" with a "brilliant intellect" and who was sensitive to the needs of others.

"Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of his 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."

Among those offering condolences was Harvest Christian Fellowship leader Greg Laurie, who tweeted followers to join him in a prayer for Warren and his wife.

Laurie, whose adult son Christopher was killed in a 2008 car crash, noted on his blog that he had experienced similar pain. "At times like these, there really are no words, but there is the Word," he wrote.

The Christian Post reported that Laurie was joined in condolences by a host of other religious leaders, including Will Graham, the grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham.

The elder Warren is the bestselling author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." He delivered the invocation at President Obama's inauguration in 2008.

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