Pastor Rick Warren has kept a low profile since his 27-year-old son, Matthew, committed suicide last April. Nearly six months later, the famed preacher and his wife, Kay, are sitting down with CNN’s Piers Morgan to give their first television interview since the tragedy.
From describing the harrowing night that their son died from a self-inflicted bullet wound to their reaction to current events, the couple delved into a plethora of subject matter during the one-hour interview, set to air on the news network at 9 p.m. ET tonight.
Kay described arriving at her son’s home the night of his death, knowing that something was very wrong. His lights were on, but Matthew didn’t respond when she knocked on the door and rang the bell — behavior that was out of his character.
“I had a pretty good sense that perhaps something catastrophic had happened,” she told Morgan.
During previous incidents, she said that Matthew threatened to take his own life if his parents called the police, so Rick and Kay waited for hours after arriving at the home, receiving only silence in return to their desperate pleas for a response.
Kay said the choice between calling the police and waiting for their son to emerge was a painful one. Later, when the two left and then returned to Matthew’s home to find the same lights on and the situation unchanged, both said that they knew, for sure, what had happened.
“We were sobbing. We were just sobbing,” said Rick. “The day that I had feared might happen one day, since he had been born, and the day that I had prayed would never happen happened. And I remember, as we stood in the — in … the driveway just embracing each other and sobbing.”
Their fears were substantiated when they learned soon after that Matthew shot himself inside of the home. Since his much-publicized death, the Warrens have pledged to begin addressing mental health issues, with the preacher promising to launch a ministry to deal with this complex conundrum.
During the interview with Morgan, mental illness was naturally something that Rick and Kay spoke openly about, sharing their son’s lifelong struggle. Claiming that Matthew was not afraid to die, the famed pastor said that he was, instead, afraid of the pain that he so deeply felt — anguish that even the best doctors were unable to cure.
“I remember 10 years ago, when he was 17, he came to me sobbing. And he said, daddy, he said, it’s really clear, I’m not going to get any better,” recalled the pastor.
“You know, we’ve gone to the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best treatment therapists. Everything you — prayer, everything you could imagine, um, good support. And he — he says, it’s real clear I’m not going to get any better, so why can’t I just die?,” Rick continued.
Watch a portion of the interview, below:
This immense pain plagued Matthew, carrying with him and serving as a barrier that he was simply unable to scale.
The Warrens also recounted how their son had repeatedly tried to obtain a gun, but laws in California prevented him from doing so, as a result of his mental illness. While they said that they were happy that restrictions protected Matthew for so long, he was inevitably able to secure an illegal firearm just one month before his death.
It’s not as though the Warrens were unaware of their son’s plight. Not only did Kay know about his suicidal struggles, but she was also aware that he had obtained an illegal gun. She shared the painful details in her interview with Morgan, highlighting the unimaginable dilemma she faced.
“He told me that he, um, he — he told me everything. And he told me that he had … found somebody, finally, on the Internet, who would sell it to him,” she said of the gun. “And it had to be super encrypted and it had to be, you know, this whole process. And it — he begged me to help him, because he couldn’t figure out the process.”
But Kay naturally couldn’t help Matthew in his tragic quest.
“Here’s my son in terrible pain, begging me to help him get a — a means to end his pain. And it’s like my son, I can’t do that. I can’t — I can help you … live. I will do anything to help you live. I cannot help you take your life,” she added.
The full interview airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.”
(H/T: CNN’s Piers Morgan Live)