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Rick Warren says 'haters celebrate' his pain after son's suicide

April 09, 2013|By Los Angeles Times Staff
  • A file photo of Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, leading Christmas Eve services in 2008.
A file photo of Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, leading Christmas… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Rick Warren said it's been difficult to deal with some of the hate mail and online comments he's read since announcing Saturday that his son had committed suicide.

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

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,” the pastor wrote.

But there have also been many words of hate on various website comment boards, including some blaming Warren for his son's death.

Those comments have prompted outrage in some corners.

On Monday, Fox News personality Megyn Kelly discussed them on her show, calling some of the comments "shocking, disgusting and hard to understand. ... I’m not going to give a voice to the haters because, I mean, boy oh boy, these are people who are in a dark place.” 

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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