Megachurch pastor, mental health advocate Jarrid Wilson dies by suicide
Jarrid Wilson, a Southern California megachurch pastor and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday.
Wilson, 30, was associate pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, under Pastor Greg Laurie. He co-founded Anthem of Hope, a mental health nonprofit helping people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. He is survived by his wife, Julianne, and two sons, Finch and Denham.
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The tragic news shocked and saddened the Christian community.
"At a time like this, there are just no words," Laurie said in a statement Tuesday. "The Bible says, 'There is a time to mourn.' This is certainly that time."
"Jarrid loved the Lord and had a servant’s heart," the senior pastor said. "He was vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others...He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts."
Julianne Wilson posted a tribute to her "loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt off his back husband" on Instagram, adding, "Suicide doesn't get the last word."
"Your life’s work has led thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell others about your struggle with anxiety and depression has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone," she said. "YOU WERE an ANTHEM OF HOPE to everyone, baby, and I'll do my best to continue your legacy of love until my last breath."
Hours before he took his life, Jarrid Wilson tweeted a message about suicide.
"Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts," he wrote. "But that doesn't mean Jesus doesn't offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that."
Wilson killed himself during Suicide Awareness month, a time he usually spent talking about suicide prevention. Laurie comforted his grieving flock with Romans 8:39, which says that "nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus." He added that "one dark moment in a Christian's life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross."
Messages and tributes have been pouring in from pastors, worship leaders, and fellow believers from across the nation, expressing heartbreak, sadness, and offering prayers.
Jarrid Wilson authored four books, including "Jesus Swagger" and "Love Is Oxygen," and wrote three opinion pieces for the Fox News Faith section: "Stop complicating God's will," "Jesus is proof crying is not a sign of weakness: It's Ok to not be OK," and "God has a purpose for your pain."
He sent another piece to be published this month calling on churches and church leaders to do more on mental health.
“We NEED the church to step up in its efforts to be more vocal in regards to mental illness. Whether that be through a sermon series, free resources, supporting other non-profits or even a cultivating a designated yearlong ministry,” he wrote. “Regardless, the church should be at the frontlines of this battle. People need a safe place where they can be honest and transparent with what they are going through.”
Wilson wrote about contemplating suicide and said he found no resources in the church to help him cope with depression. Instead heard people saying, “Just have faith" -- but that didn’t help.
“All the counseling and help I received came years after I actually needed it, and it was found in the secrecy of a local medical facility, not a church—where it should have been all along,” he said.
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Harvest Christian Fellowship posted this along with Wilson's Memoriam:
"If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at tel:1-800-273-TALK (8255)."