A California megachurch pastor who frequently spoke out on the issues of mental health and his own struggles with depression died on Monday by suicide at the age of 30.
Jarrid Wilson joined the Harvest Christian Fellowship church in Riverside, Calif. 18 months ago as an associate pastor, according to a statement from the church. The church has a congregation of 15,000.
“He was vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others,” the statement said. “He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.”
“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people,” the church’s senior pastor Greg Laurie wrote in a blog post mourning Wilson’s death on Tuesday. “We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not.”
Jarrid is survived by his wife Julianne and two sons, Denham and Finch.
Julianne shared an emotional tribute on Instagram, writing that her husband was a “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt [off] his back husband.”
“No more pain, my Jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by his side right this very second,” her post read.
Wilson and his wife were the founders of an outreach program called “Anthem of Hope,” which set out to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.
In a 2017 podcast interview with ChurchLeaders.com, Wilson cited the Bible’s Book of Job, arging that “Some of God’s brightest saints dealt with the darkest of depression. What we have to understand is that just because you’re dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts does not mean you’re any less of a believer or a Christian than anybody else.” And in a column written a year later for the site, he wrestled further with scriptural precedent and the stigma many place upon suicide and suicidal thoughts or ideation. Such judgments, Harris wrote, “ill-thought and without proper biblical understanding… [they] obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace.” He continued:
The day before his death, Wilson tweeted that faith couldn’t always be seen as a “cure” but added that it “doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.