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A California megachurch pastor, Jim Howard was found in his home last week, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

According to the Christian Post, Howard of the 6,000-member Real Life Church took his life on Wednesday, ending his long-time battle with mental illness.

Rusty George, another lead pastor at Real Life Church, released a statement on Facebook on behalf of the church announcing the heartbreaking news. George wrote, “It is with a heavy heart that I can confirm we suffered a tragic loss on our church staff this week. On Wednesday, January 23, 2019, Jim Howard — a beloved pastor here at RLC — took his own life.”

George continued, “Sadly, Jim suffered in private with mental health challenges — some of which he bravely discussed in public — and was wrestling with some personal issues in recent months. This week he made the tragic decision to end his pain. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, the RLC family and all those who were blessed to know him.”

According to The Signal, paramedics were dispatched to Howard’s home around 3:40 pm after receiving reports of a gunshot wound to the head.

Homicide detectives evaluated the scene.  On Thursday, Sergeant Tim O’Quinn of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said that he could not confirm the cause of death but he could only confirm that it was “not a criminal incident.”

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The Real Life Church confirmed later that day that Howard had committed suicide. In the post by Real Life Church, Howard was described as a “tornado of energy” and a “wonderful man with a deep love for Jesus and a passion for sharing the grace of God with anyone he met.”

Comments on the Real Life Church post echoed these sentiments. Several Facebook users recalled the joyous time spent in college with Howard, while others personally identified with the pastor’s struggle and offered prayers to his friends and family.

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