The world of country music suffered a huge loss when reports announced that Naomi Judd, 76, had died. As one-half of the Grammy-winning duo, The Judds with daughter, Wynonna Judd, 57, Naomi was one of the most successful artists to grace country music. Wynonna, along with her sister and Naomi’s youngest daughter, actress Ashley Judd, 54 released an official statement on Ashley’s Twitter account, confirming that their mom had in fact passed away. The tweet stated that the sisters lost Naomi to the “disease of mental illness.”
On May 1, 2022, just one day after the announcement of her death, Naomi along with daughter Wynonna, as part of The Judds, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. During her tearful acceptance speech alongside sister Ashley, Wynonna said, “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.” An emotional Ashley added, “I’m sorry that she [Naomi] couldn’t hang on until today.”
Although her initial statement only claimed that Naomi had passed from mental illness, no detailed explanation was given about the cause of death until recently when Ashley sat down with Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer. In this candid interview, Ashley shared that Naomi used a gun to end her own life, committing suicide, “She used a weapon … my mother used a firearm. So 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.” Judd went on to add that she was the one who found her mother’s lifeless body, “I went upstairs to let her know that her good friend was there, and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
Naomi Judd’s last performance was with Wynonna at the 2022 CMT Music Awards. A public memorial service was held on Sunday, May 15, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
Abron’s Hot Take
I can’t even begin to fathom what the loss of a parent feels like, nor can I imagine what Wynonna and Ashley are going through. Back in 2016, during an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Naomi talked about her battles with depression and suicidal thoughts. To know that even back then, she struggled with this disease and then ultimately succumbed to it and took her own life is a hard pill to swallow. Although Naomi’s battle is not uncommon, it is, however, very alarming. Oftentimes, we look at the lives of celebrities and we assume that because they have money, and fame, their lives are far better than the average person. On the surface, that can be true. Being able to buy big mansions and expensive cars seems like the pinnacle of success. But what you can’t buy your way out of is your own mental health. It’s always with you and follows you everywhere you go.
Depression is something we all struggle with. No matter who you are, whether you’re famous or not, you will at some point, experience depression. And as we’ve learned from the passing of Extra TV correspondent, Cheslie Kryst, even high-functioning depression can still become so debilitating that suicidal ideation creeps in. My hope is that we as a society can not only normalize the topic of depression and mental health but that we can make seeking treatment a part of any other illness as that is in fact what it is. Suicide has claimed far too many due to their depression. It’s a dangerous disease that is far more lethal than cancer because it attacks slowly and can stay with you for years if not properly treated. My heart and condolences are with Wynonna, Ashley, the family of Cheslie, and anyone else who has lost someone to depression and suicide. For those who are suffering in silence, I encourage you to seek help from the many resources available. Trust me, you’re not alone in this fight as it is a universal one. Depression will always be here, but if we have better coping mechanisms to fight it without the stigma of shame, perhaps we can save more lives, including those of the rich and famous.
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