THE son of Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life, has taken his own life after years of battling depression.

Pastor Rick Warren confirmed his 27-year-old son Matthew had committed suicide after struggling with mental illness and depression throughout his life.

"No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," Warren wrote in an email to his church.

"Our youngest son, Matthew, age 27, and a lifelong member of Saddleback, died today.''

Warren's Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement that Matthew "was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many.''

"Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.

'Despite the best health care available, this was an illness that was never fully controlled and the emotional pain resulted in his decision to take his life."

Matthew Warren, 27, died after a long history struggling with mental illness.
Matthew Warren, 27, died after a long history struggling with mental illness.

Warren said in an email to church staff that he and his wife had enjoyed a fun Friday evening with their son before Matthew Warren returned home to take his life in "a momentary wave of despair."

The tragedy occurred on Friday night (US time)

Fox News reported that Matthew Warren had been treated by America's best doctors, had received counseling and medication and been the recipient of numerous prayers from others, his father said.

Still, he struggled over the years.

"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?"' Warren recalled.

Despite that, he said, his son lived for another decade, during which he often reached out to help others.

"You who watched Matthew grow up knew he was an incredibly kind, gentle, and compassionate man," Warren wrote.

"He had a brilliant intellect and a gift for sensing who was most in pain or most uncomfortable in a room. He'd then make a bee-line to that person to engage and encourage them."

Rick Warren founded Saddleback Valley Community Church with his wife Kay more than 30 years ago.

Today, the church, located in Lake Forest, Calif., is one of the 10 largest and most influential churches in America.

Warren has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine and mixed with the liked of US presidents and Republicans.

The church offers more than 200 community ministries and support groups for parents, families, children, couples, prisoners, addicts, and people living with HIV, depression and other illnesses.

In recent days, he had launched Daily Hope radio, a half-hour radio program taking his teachings to the Southern California airwaves.

If you are suffering from depression, there is help at hand from organisations including Lifeline on 13 11 14

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