Suicide, Mental Illness, Murder, and the Church


As the creator of Quarter Life Conference, I am honored to announce the next #QLC online event on June 20th on the topic of church.


This couldn’t come at a more important time. Earlier this week, I heard the devastating news that Pastor Rick Warren lost his 27 year old son, Matthew to suicide. I was touched by his personal letter on the Saddleback Church blog. He said,

“But only those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. 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.

Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. 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?” but he kept going for another decade.”

Even with God’s help, an amazing family and the best doctors, their son still suffered.

I appreciate what Carlos Whittaker, a worship leader, wrote on his blog regarding Pastor Rick and his own battle with mental illness on Ragamuffin Soul:

“So let me dispel some common myths the church has when it comes to mental illness.
1. A person struggling with mental illness needs to have more faith.

My faith and my seretonin levels have nothing to do with each other.

2. A person struggling with mental illness should forgo medicine and pray harder.
You wouldn’t tell an asthmatic to pray harder during an asthma attack. You would tell them to suck on that inhaler.
Same thing.

3. A person struggling with mental illness can’t lead in ministry.
Read the Bible. It’s filled with cray ppl like me killing it for God.
Oh. And you are crazier than you think you are.”

If that weren’t enough–today, another rage of violence by a 21 year old student who stabbed at least 14 people at Lone Star College Community College campus in the Houston area before run down by a bunch of students and security guard. Or what about the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary or Aurora Movie Theater shootings? Have we forgot about them already too?

Anxiety, depression, and suicide is a hot topic in the church because so many people struggle with mental illness.

Recently, I featured a story on this website by my former literary agent, Karen Neumair, which Relevant Magazine picked up and posted on their site entitled I Was a Suicidal Christian.

+ I also shared my own personal battles On Anxiety: Why I Overeat including 14 other stories from “Christian” friends on anxiety and depression.

Tragedy is everywhere. Now–more than ever, the church needs to respond.

But how? When?

I look forward to bringing relevant speakers on the topic of church.

The videos will be posted on the Quarter Life Conference Video page, and will be available starting at midnight on June 20th.

QUESTION: What kinds of topics would you like to see addressed under the main topic of church? Please email them to me at renee (at) devotionaldiva (dot) com.

If you missed the last Quarter Life Conference on the topic of Relationships with Annie Downs, Bill and Pam Farrel, Justin and Trisha Davis, Gary Thomas, Joy Eggerichs, and Dr. Gary Thomas please watch it now! They bring some very powerful, practical, and inspirational tips to help you navigate relationships.

[Photo: Shawn Hoke, Creative Commons]