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Rick Warren starts mental health petition after son's suicide

April 17, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, has launched a petition "to urge educators, lawmakers, healthcare professionals, and church congregations to raise the awareness and lower the stigma of mental illness."
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, has launched… (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles…)

Pastor Rick Warren and his wife have launched a petition about mental illness after their son’s suicide.

“Join Kay and I, and the Saddleback Family, in our effort to urge educators, lawmakers, healthcare professionals, and church congregations to raise the awareness and lower the stigma of mental illness … and support the families that deal with mental illness on a daily basis,” the petition reads.

Matthew Warren, 27, shot himself April 5 at his home in Mission Viejo. The elder Warren is pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, which is considered to have one of the largest congregations in the country with more than 22,000 attending the church weekly. Warren is the bestselling author of "The Purpose-Driven Life." He delivered the invocation at President Obama's inauguration in 2008.

“Matthew was just one of about 11.4 million American adults that suffered from severe mental illness in the past year,” the petition states. “In fact, one in five Americans experiences some sort of mental illness.”

Warren has taken to social media to grieve over the family's loss. They family has also started a foundation on mental health in Matthew Warren’s name. He was memorialized this weekend in a private ceremony.

Police said the gun Warren used in his suicide was bought online, unregistered and had its serial number scratched off. 

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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