Rick Warren's Son's Suicide is Grim Reminder of "Nationwide, Impartial Suicide Epidemic," says Faith-based Website, followme.org

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Death of well-known pastor's son shows need for mental illness prevention programs within religious communities and without, says followme.org.

Image used courtesy of jurvetson at Flickr Creative Commons

Pastor Rick Warren speaks at TED Conference in February 2006. Image used courtesy of jurvetson at Flickr Creative Commons.

Depression is not a respecter of persons-- it affects church-going people and non-going people alike. This tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the epidemic of mental illness in this country and around the world."

"Depression is not a respecter of persons-- it affects church-going people and non-going people alike. This tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the epidemic of mental illness in this country and around the world," says followme.org, a faith-based website that provides online resources for combating depression, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts.

That statement came today as Pastor Rick Warren and his family continue to grieve the unexpected death of their son, Matthew, who took his own life on Saturday evening, according to the Los Angeles Times. According to Pastor Warren, Matthew had battled mental illness and depression for most of his life.

"Only those closest knew that [Matthew] struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, even suicidal thoughts," Warren told his congregation at Saddleback Church in Orange County on Sunday. Warren shared how he and his wife "often marveled at [Matthew's] courage to keep moving in spite of his relentless pain," according to the Times.

Since the younger Warren's suicide on Saturday evening, words of hope and comfort have poured in from around the country and around the world, Pastor Warren said. Warren shared his family's gratefulness on Facebook on Sunday night: "Kay and I are overwhelmed by your love, prayers, and kind words."

In the midst of the Warren family's grieving, one faith-based website says that Matthew Warren's death highlights the nature of a "nationwide, impartial suicide epidemic in America." Followme.org provides web-based resources for individuals fighting mental illness and searching for depression counseling. Its leaders say that the tragedy of Warren's death should "wake up the Church" about the tragedy of depression.

"We mourn with Pastor Warren, his wife, and their family as we learn about the pain that became a way of life for their son, Matthew. Unfortunately, that pain is a way of life for hundreds of thousands of Americans, inside and outside of religious communities. The Church is not impervious to the suicide epidemic, and it must commit to discovering and providing real solutions for mental illness and depression," says Pastor Jamie of followme.org.

What support does Pastor Jamie recommend for individuals who are currently wrestling with suicidal thoughts? "Stay connected. Whether it is a church community or a close circle of friends, stay connected to people who love you and believe that you can overcome your depression. Hope comes in spurts, and those spurts often coincide with involvement in a caring community," Pastor Jamie says.

Followme.org, he says, is committed to providing free resources for all individuals to "take positive steps toward healing." For more information, visit http://www.followme.org.

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Jeff White
FollowMe.org
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