Naomi Judd has been vocal about her struggles with depression and suicide. Ashley revealed the diease spurred her to take her life.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of suicide that some readers may find distressing
Ashley Judd is opening up about the cause of her Mom Naomi Judd's death to raise awareness of mental health issues. Naomi Judd died by suicide on April 30 and her daughter revealed that she used a firearm. "Because we don't want it to be part of the gossip economy, I will share with you that she used a weapon; my mother used a firearm," Ashley told Good Morning America in an emotional interview. "So that's the piece of information 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 was interviewed by Diane Sawyer and told the latter that Naomi "was seen and she was heard in her anguish, and she was walked home."
Naomi has been open about her struggles with depression. Judd explained how dangerous the disease can be, and how it can convince you to do things you don't want to. "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," she said. "It's very real … and it’s enough to — it lies. It’s savage.” She also revealed that on the day of her death, Naomi had asked Judd if she would stay with her. "Of course, I will," said Judd said. A little later in the day when Judd stepped outside to bring a friend of her Mom's, Naomi used a firearm to end her life. “She obviously was suffering,” said Judd.
Naomi and Wynonna Judd were set to be inducted into Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame the following day. Ashley and Wynonna attended the ceremony to accept the honor and gave an emotional speech. "I'm gonna make this fast because my heart's broken — and I feel so blessed," said Wynonna. "I mean, it's a very strange dynamic to be this broken and this blessed." Ashley said it just went on to show how much of trouble her Mom was dealing with. "Our mother couldn't hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers," said Ashley. "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."
Judd said much of her Mom's troubles stemmed from sexual and childhood abuse in her past. "Motherhood happened to her without her consent. She experienced an unintended pregnancy at age 17, and that led her down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence," she wrote in a tribute to her Mom for USA Today. Judd said she channeled her power into her children and encouraged them to use it to empower themselves and others. "Forgive me if my grief isn't tidy. When I think about my mother, I am awash in the painful specifics. It's a little easier, this Mother's Day, to think about mothers in the collective, to wonder whether we value them," she added.
Judd also explained her Mom's internal battles in the context of the potential abortion ban. "Motherhood should always be a choice," wrote Judd. "Does that sound radical to you? Does that sound like I wish my sister and I hadn’t been born? If that’s what you think, I will gladly direct my incandescent rage at you. When we accept as normal that women and girls will drop out of school and the workforce because they are expected to take on the unpaid labor of child care? When we fail to protect girls from poverty and violence?" she asked. "My mother was stolen from me by the disease of mental illness, by the wounds she carried from a lifetime of injustices that started when she was a girl. Because she was a girl,” said Judd.
If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)