It was a massive blow to the country music world, as The Judd’s are still widely known as one of the best duos in country music history, and were in the process of gearing up for a farewell tour featuring of a number of great female country artists.
Naomi was also slated to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the following day.
Since the tragedy, both her daughters Wynonna and Ashley have been very open and honest about their sadness for the passing of their mother, the grieving process, and have even addressed the media at times regarding how the family is doing.
You can only imagine how difficult the past few months have been for them…
With that being said, Ashley recently shared her thoughts on the horrific day when it all happened in an opinion piece with The New York Times.
We need better law enforcement procedures and laws that would allow suffering families and their deceased loved one more dignity around agonizingly intimate details of their suffering. Autopsies are public record. So are toxicology reports. (2/3)
It goes without saying that finding your mother breathing her last breaths is a traumatic and horrifying experience for anybody, famous or not.
However, Ashley says that Tennessee law makes police reports, family interviews and other details public record… which exposed what should be a very private family matter, to the media and the world.
The 54-year-old discussed her displeasure of how law enforcement handled the investigation, saying she felt both “cornered” and “powerless.”
“Many of us are socially conditioned to cooperate with law enforcement, we are utterly unguarded in what we say. I gushed answers to the many probing questions directed at me in the four interviews the police insisted I do on the very day my mother died…
Questions I would never have answered on any other day… I felt cornered and powerless as law enforcement officers began questioning me while the last of my mother’s life was fading. “
Ashley also noted that she wanted to comfort her mother as she was dying, but felt she had to talk to the police… which made her feel like a suspect in her mother’s own suicided.
“I want to be clear that the police were simply following terrible, outdated interview procedures and methods of interacting with family members who are in shock or trauma and that the individuals in my mother’s bedroom that harrowing day were not bad or wrong.
I assume they did as they were taught. It is now well known that law enforcement personnel should be trained in how to respond to and investigate cases involving trauma, but the men who were present left us feeling stripped of any sensitive boundary, interrogated and, in my case, as if I was a possible suspect in my mother’s suicide.”
Ashley also noted that she wanted to keep the information from the investigation of her mother’s death private, saying:
“This profoundly intimate personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the internet or anywhere except in our memories.”
We have shared our story so openly, to raise awareness, reduce stigma, to help people identify, and make sure we all know we face mental illness together. What more do folks want us to give of our grief? (3/3)@NYTimesOpEdhttps://t.co/9266UbSAAX
Naomi Judd Autopsy Confirms Note Was Left For Family
An autopsy report has officially confirmed the cause of death of country music legend Naomi Judd.
Obtained Friday by The Associated Press, the report confirmed what daughters Wynonna and Ashley have already said about how she died.
The 76 year old died by self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 30th, 2022, at her home in Tennessee.
The family released a statement in conjunction with the findings:
“We have always shared openly both the joys of being family as well its sorrows, too. One part of our story is that our matriarch was dogged by an unfair foe.
She was treated for PTSD and bipolar disorder, to which millions of Americans can relate.”
According to the autopsy, Judd had a medical history indicating a “significant” history with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, chronic idiopathic pneumonitis, hepatitis C, hypertension, and hypothyroidism.
She was on a number of medications to treat those various conditions including insomnia, Parkinson’s, depression and seizures.
“Per family, the decedent has had prior suicidal ideations and recent life stressors. A weapon and a note with suicidal connotations were found near the decedent at the scene.”
She also reportedly had the words “Suit Case” written on her hand.
The family has filed a motion to seal to keep the death records sealed.
RIP to the great Naomi Judd.
Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.
Ashley Judd Reveals Her Mother Died By Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound
Ashley Judd recently opened up to Diane Sawyer about that tragic day, revealing some of the details the family had kept private up until this point.
Ashley noted that they knew the details of her mother’s death would eventually get out to the public, and she wanted to be the one to say the truth before it became twisted by gossip sites and people who really didn’t know the full and accurate story.
She started by reiterating how debilitating Namoi’s mental health disease was for most of her life (something Naomi was publicly open about in the past):
“My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish. And that she was walked home… she was walked home.
When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real, and it lies, it’s savage, and you know, my mother, our mother, couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers.
And 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 that the disease told her was so convincing.”
Ashley confirmed that Naomi used a firearm to commit suicide, and that she was the one who found her mother that day at Naomi’s Tennessee home:
“I’ve thought about this so much, because once I say it it cannot be unsaid. And so, because we don’t want it to be apart of the gossip economy, I will share with you that she used a weapon.
Mother used a firearm. So that’s the piece of information that we feel very uncomfortable sharing but understand the position that, you know, if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.”
Diane asked her if it was just a day like any other day, and Ashley said it wasn’t exactly normal because her mom had asked her to stay with her while she was at the house visiting, which she did most days when she was home in Tennessee:
“It was a mixed day. I visit with my mom and pop everyday when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house visiting as I am everyday.
And mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’, and I said ‘Of course I will.'”
Ashley went outside to welcome a friend of Naomi’s who was there to visit, and when she went back upstairs to tell Naomi that her friend was there, Ashley and her family’s lives were tragically changed forever:
“I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her. My mother is entitled to her dignity and her privacy.
And so there are some things that we would just like to retain as a family, and so I wanna be very careful that when we talk about this today for anyone having those ideas, or those impulses, you know, to talk to someone, to share, to be open, to be vulnerable.
There is a national suicide hotline.”
Of course, Naomi is now a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame with her daughter, Wynonna, as the iconic duo The Judds.
Naomi Judd Was A Friend To All
Ashley also recalled what a personable and kind woman her mother was, who was quick to strike up conversation with people she didn’t otherwise know and become fast friends despite what she dealt with on the inside:
“Mom was a brilliant conversationalist, she was a star, she was an underrated songwriter, and she was someone who suffered from mental illness, you know, and had a lot of trouble getting off the sofa.
Except to go into town everyday togo to the Cheesecake Factory where all the staff knew and loved her. And I know everything about them, because she told me everything about them, and Dwayne at Walgreens, you know, who needs to get a dog.
That’s the way she was, and she always had $100 bills stuffed in her bra and she was passing them out to the janitorial staff.
Just an unfailingly kind and sensitive woman. She was very isolated in many ways because of the disease, and yet there were a lot of people who showed up for her over the years, not just me.”
Noami was one of a kind, and will be sorely missed by the country music community and beyond.
Wynonna was understandably not ready to participate in the interview on camera, and sent a letter to her sister saying she needed time to process and before she spoke publicly again.
She also noted how thankful she was that she had Ashley by her side through this traumatic time, with the letter reading, in part:
“I just can’t believe she’s gone.”
It’s an absolutely heartbreaking situation all the way around, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this extremely difficult time.
You can watch part of the emotional interview here: