Programming note: Rick and Kay Warren sit down exclusively with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET to talk about the death of their son and their new mission to raise awareness about mental illness.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA (CNN) — In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that his son was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.
Matthew Warren had “a tender heart and a tortured mind,” said Warren, a best-selling author who has given spiritual guidance to untold thousands.
"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said. "But that -- that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."
Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, founded Saddleback Church in Southern California in 1980, growing it from a small congregation to a multisite megachurch with some 20,000 weekly worshippers.
Warren is also author of the spiritual self-help guide “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, with more 36 million copies sold.
But even as the Warrens grew in prominence – attending conferences with presidents and prime ministers -- their son Matthew struggled with borderline personality disorder and deep depression, they said during an exclusive interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan on Tuesday.
The Warrens said they are opening up about their son’s tragic death because they hope to end the stigma of mental illness and save another family from the pain they suffer.
They have slowly returned to the spotlight since grieving in private for five months.
Matthew Warren visited his parents on the night of April 5, just like so many nights before.
“I had made him dinner,” Kay Warren told CNN. “He laid his head down on the kitchen table and he just said ‘I'm so tired.’ He just said ‘I'm so tired.’”
After a hug from his dad, Matthew left his parents' house and went back to his own. He and his mom began texting, and the conversation veered toward suicide, Kay Warren said.
“I knew it was very desperate. And I also knew he – I knew he had a gun.”
Earlier, Matthew had told his parents he had illegally obtained a gun online -- but if they called the police about the gun he would kill himself instantly.
Matthew Warren had tried to legally purchase a gun many times, his family said. Each time he was rebuffed because he had been forcibly admitted to a mental institution, a red flag on a California background check.
“We're grateful that the laws kept Matthew from getting the gun for as long as it did,” Rick Warren said.
When Matthew hit a roadblock buying a gun, he turned to other options.
"He was so desperate to end the pain,” Kay Warren said.
Ten days earlier, Matthew had tried to end his life by overdosing on pills, the Warrens said, one of several suicide attempts in his young life.
Matthew had begged his mother to help him die, Kay Warren said.
“I will do anything to help you live,” she recalls telling him, “but I will not help you take your life.”’
The texting between Matthew and Kay Warren went on for hours on the night of April 5.