Beloved Grammy-winning singer Naomi Judd, 76, who suffered from mental health issues for years, committed suicide on April 30, and on Thursday her daughter Ashley revealed that her mother took her own life by shooting herself.
Judd died in the upstairs bedroom of her Nashville, Tennessee area farmhouse the day before she was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Ashley Judd, who was visiting her mother at the farmhouse and discovered her mother’s body, told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “Mother used a firearm. That’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand that we’re in a position that if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.”
Ashley Judd added that the Judd family had authorized her to speak candidly about her mother’s death to raise awareness regarding mental health and its treatments.
“She obviously was suffering, and, as such, her days up until that moment were hurtful to her,” she acknowledged.
“It was a mixed day,” Ashley Judd recalled. “I was at the house visiting, as I am every day, and mom said to me ‘will you stay with me?’ and I said: ‘Of course I will.’”
Judd said she had exited the home to greet a family friend. “I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her,” Judd stated. “I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
“Mom was a brilliant conversationalist,” Judd said. “She was a star, an underrated songwriter, and she was someone who suffered from mental illness, who had trouble getting off the sofa. … But her brain hurt. It physically hurt. … When you’re talking about mental illness, it’s important to make the distinction between the loved one and the disease. My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish and she was walked home.”
“I really accepted the love my mother was capable of giving me because I knew she was fragile,” she said. “I savored those moments and every time we hugged and she drank me in, I was very present for those tactile experiences because I knew there would come a time when she would be gone, whether it was sooner or whether it was later, whether it was by the disease or another cause.”
“Our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers,” Judd said sadly. “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 2016, Naomi Judd took Oprah Winfrey on a tour of her farm, where she had lived for roughly 30 years. She pointed out how close her daughters lived to her, saying, “Ashley lives right up over that hill, right up the road. … And Miss Wynonna lives right over that hill.”
Calling her farm her “haven” and “sanctuary,” she added that she called it “Peaceful Valley the moment I laid eyes on it.”
Wynonna Judd stated at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony, “I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew Mom would probably talk the most. … I’m gonna make this fast, because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed. It’s a very strange dynamic, to be this broken and this blessed…. Though my heart’s broken, I will continue to sing, because that’s what we do.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline for individuals in crisis or distress or for those looking to help someone else. It is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.