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Christians Can't Ignore the Uncomfortable Reality of Mental Illness

Our shallow responses send the message that our faith has no answer for this kind of suffering.
Christians Can't Ignore the Uncomfortable Reality of Mental Illness
Helga Weber / Flickr

Last weekend, the nation, and particularly the evangelical community, was stunned by the news that Rick Warren's youngest son, Matthew, had died by suicide after a lifelong battle with mental illness. We can't say what Matthew Warren—a young man with access to mental health care, a loving family, and a relationship with Christ—was thinking and feeling as he took his own life, but we can honor this family's pain by considering how we interact with the people in our own lives who suffer from mental illness.

In the wake of his son's death, Rick Warren has already addressed the "haters" who celebrate his family's loss and blame Warren himself. For most people, such a response is unfathomable. To celebrate a person's tragic death takes a special kind of evil. But in responding to mental illness, even well-meaning people can do harm so easily.

Experts say more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder; while most ...

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