Jarrid Wilson, California megachurch pastor and mental health activist, dies by suicide

Jarrid Wilson, a Southern California megachurch pastor who advocated for mental health and suicide awareness, died by suicide Monday night at age 30, CNN reports.

Greg Laurie, senior pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, where Wilson had been an associate pastor for the past 18 months, announced Wilson’s death in a statement.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” Laurie wrote. “The Bible says, ‘There is a time to mourn.’ This is certainly that time.”

Wilson, 30, leaves behind his wife Juli and two sons, according to the statement.

“He was vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others,” Laurie wrote. “Jarrid also repeatedly dealt with depression and was very open about his ongoing struggles. He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.”

‘Amplifying hope’ goal of organization

Prior to joining Harvest Christian Fellowship, Jarrid and Juli Wilson had founded Anthem of Hope, a nonprofit promoting mental health awareness, The Washington Post reported.

“Anthem of Hope is a faith-centered organization dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide,” says the organization’s website.

In 2018, Jarrid Wilson described his battle against depression in a story about his decision to become a Christian in 2007, Faithwire reported.

“I was sitting in my car, as I’ve shared many times before, Googling painless ways to commit suicide, and this flood of emotions and wisdom and guidance and God’s presence just began to infiltrate my life,” Jarrid Wilson said, according to the publication.

He had posted on the topic several times to Twitter before his death Monday, including a post saying that he’d just officiated at the funeral of a woman who had died by suicide and another promoting an online help chat for people struggling with loneliness or depression.

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts,” Jarrid Wilson posted later in the day. “But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”

Death ‘ripped my heart out’

Juli Wilson posted to Instagram on Tuesday about her husband’s death.

“I love you forever, Thomas Jarrid Wilson, but I have to say that you being gone has completely ripped my heart out of my chest,” she wrote. “Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it.”

View this post on Instagram

My loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt of his back husband went to be with Jesus late last night . 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 . I love you forever, Thomas jarrid Wilson, but I have to say that you being gone has completely ripped my heart out of my chest. You loved me and our boys relentlessly and I am forever grateful that i had YOU as a husband and a father to our boys . You are my forever and I will continue to let other people know of the hope in Jesus you found and spoke so boldly about . Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said “Hope Gets the last word. Jesus gets the last word”. Your life’s work has lead thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell other about your struggle with anxiety and depression has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone. 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 . I need you, jare, but you needed Jesus to hold you and I have to be okay with that. You are everything to me. Since the day we met. J & J. Love you more . These are photos of him in his happy place - fishing the day away . I’ll teach our boys all your tricks, babe. Promise. You are my #anthemofhope

A post shared by Julianne Wilson (@itsjuliwilson) on

“His heart was bursting to help other people with their hurt,” wrote New York Times bestselling author Roy Acuff on Twitter. “Last night he lost his own battle with depression. I’m so sad for him, his wife and his young kids.”

“As someone who battles anxiety and depression, his posts always encouraged me and i enjoyed chatting with him and his audience on Twitter,” wrote Grammy-nominated singer Jamie Grace on Twitter.

“Friends with mental illness we aren’t going to be able to make sense of @JarridWilson’s death,” wrote Holly Stallcup, executive director for Rise, on Twitter. “You and I know the most horrific part of our diseases is that they don’t make sense.”

“I have cried more tears today than I knew I had in me, grieving the death of @jarridwilson, a friend who was more like family... “ wrote author Jonathan Merritt on Twitter.

Even experts not ‘above the pain’

Also hailed as a champion of mental health awareness, Gregory Eells, executive director of counseling and psychological services at the University of Pennsylvania, died Monday by suicide at 52, Inside Higher Ed reported.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie wrote in his blog post about Wilson’s death.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and Tuesday was World Suicide Awareness Day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800 273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.