Following the passing of country superstar Naomi Judd on April 30th, the Judd family has chosen to share details of her death in hopes of shedding light on mental illness.
In a Thursday interview on Good Morning America, the family explained that they wanted to share her cause of death themselves, before it was made public elsewhere.
Ashley Judd said that her mother “used a weapon” to take her own life, before adding that it was a firearm. “So that’s the piece of information we are very uncomfortable sharing,” she said.
She and her sister Wynonna Judd initially announced on the day of her death that they had lost their mother “to the disease of mental illness.” She was 76.
In the interview with Diane Sawyer, Ashley revealed that it was her who found her mother’s body.
“I have both grief and trauma from discovering her,” said Judd.
Naomi Judd had been outspoken about her battle with depression. Ashley emphasizes that it’s “important to make the distinction between the loved one and the disease.”
In 2016, Judd spoke with Robin Roberts about her struggle with depression in an interview with Good Morning America.
“When people meet me, they think, because they see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am,” Judd said of her fans. “I’m sort of a fantasy ’cause I want to provide that for them, but then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks and not get out of my pajamas, not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad.”
Also to Roberts, Judd described suffering “completely debilitating and life-threatening” depression, which led to a number of psychiatric ward visits. Despite being treated with medication and electro-convulsive therapy, her condition did not disappear. She called her illness “treatment-resistant.”
Naomi’s death came just one day before she and her daughter Wynonna, who made up the country music duo The Judds, were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“[She] couldn’t hang on,” Ashley said. “That is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her. Because the barrier between the regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.”
In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.