The news today tells a dismal tale –
“At 27 years of age, Matthew was an incredibly kind, gentle and compassionate young man whose sweet spirit was encouragement and comfort to many,” Warren, the popular author of The Purpose Driven Life, said in the letter. “Unfortunately, he also suffered from mental illness resulting in deep depression and suicidal thoughts.”
Matthew Warren, one of three children of Warren and his wife, Kay, killed himself Friday, the evangelical pastor said in the letter.
“No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now,” 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.”
“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided. Today, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.” (from The Huffington Post)
As a person of faith living with a mental illness who has attempted suicide, this story is all too familiar with me. It creates in me both a feeling a grateful relief (that I was rescued from death) as well as a bewildered sense of survivor’s guilt.
I want to feel angry. But who would I be angry at?
The mental health establishment?
I suppose I could concoct stories showing how each fell short to save Matthew’s life, but in the end, in spite of aggressive efforts from many sources, he was the one who chose to give up. Just like I did (though I lived to tell about it).
It’s been almost 5 years now since I tried to end my life. I’m happy to say I’m enjoying relative balance – on medication, through prayer, in counseling, at church, as I write. I still struggle with depression, but I don’t fear I will follow in Matthew’s footsteps.
Recently, I wrote an autobiographical poem that includes my suicide attempt and this brief reflection –
Some people ask me now how someone who claims
To be in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ
Could try to kill himself.
I don’t have a good answer.
I only know that though I’ve wanted to give up on God,
God hasn’t given up on me.
I’d like to hear from you. How have you been impacted by Matthew’s death? By mental illness? By suicide? How has it affected your faith?