The youngest son of prominent US evangelical preacher Rick Warren has committed suicide after a long struggle with mental illness, the pastor’s church said Saturday.
Matthew Warren, 27, died on Friday following years of battling depression, a statement from the Saddleback Valley Community Church said.
The statement paid tribute to Matthew Warren as “an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many.”
In a letter to Saddleback staff from Rick Warren, which was released by the church, the pastor said his son had taken his life after suffering “a momentary wave of despair at his home.”
Rick Warren, 59, founded the Saddleback megachurch in Lake Forest, roughly 47 miles (76 kilometers) south of Los Angeles, in 1980.
Around 20,000 people attend the church every week, while Warren has a high national profile in the United States.
In the 2008 election he hosted a forum for presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama, before later giving the invocation at Obama’s inauguration in January 2009.