When Naomi Judd, the Grammy-winning country music singer, died last month, her daughter Ashley Judd said she had lost her mother to the “disease of mental illness”. Ms Judd was more outspoken on Thursday, saying in a TV interview that her mother died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her home in Tennessee, and encouraging those in distress to seek help.
Ms. Judd, an actress, told Diane Sawyer on ‘Good Morning America’ that she was speaking out about her mother’s death because her family wanted to share the information before it became ‘public without our scrutiny’ .
“We are aware that although mourning the loss of a wife and a mother, we are, in a strange way, a public family,” Ms Judd said. “So that’s really the impetus for that timing. Otherwise it’s obviously way too early. So it’s important for us to say that upfront.
Naomi Judd and her other daughter, Wynonna Judd, topped the country music charts in the 1980s as mother-daughter duo the Judds. Naomi Judd, 76, died April 30, a day before the duo were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In Thursday’s interview, Ashley Judd said she was visiting her mother at her home outside of Nashville when she died. Ms Judd said she went out to greet a friend of her mother who had stopped by, and when she went upstairs to tell her mother the friend had arrived she found her mother dead.
“Mother used a gun,” Ms Judd said. “This is information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand that we are in a position where if we don’t say it, someone else will.”
“Mom was a brilliant conversationalist, she was a star, she was an underrated songwriter,” Ms Judd said. “And she was someone who suffered from mental illness, you know, and had a really hard time getting off the couch, except to go into town every day to the Cheesecake Factory, where all the staff knew her and loved.”
Naomi Judd was born in Ashland, a mining town in northeastern Kentucky, and lived in California before moving to Nashville in 1979, as a single mother with two daughters.
Ms. Judd supported her family by working as a nurse while pursuing a music career with Wynonna. Their break-up came in 1983, when Ms Judd cared for a patient who turned out to be the daughter of an RCA Records executive. A recording contract, nine Country Music Association Awards, five Grammys and 14 No. 1 hits followed.
Ashley Judd said in the interview that her mother was most lively when she was performing.
“She was very isolated in many ways because of the illness,” Ms Judd said. “And yet, there were a lot of people who showed up for her over the years, not just me.”
Ms Judd encouraged those in distress to seek help and cited resources including the National Suicide Hotline and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a mental health organization that also has a helpline.
“And so I want to be very careful when we talk about it today,” Ms. Judd said, “that for anyone who has these ideas or impulses, you know, talking to someone, sharing, being open, being vulnerable. »
If you are having suicidal thoughts, in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. To go here for resources outside the United States.