[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Ashley Judd is opening up about her mother Naomi Judd’s tragic last moments.
In an emotional interview with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America on Thursday, the country music star’s daughter confirmed that she died by suicide, adding that she passed away following a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Double Jeopardy star tearfully noted:
“She used a weapon. My mother used a firearm. So that’s the piece of information we are very uncomfortable sharing.”
Heartbreakingly, Ashley was also the one to discover her mother had passed away. With her step-father, Larry Strickland, out of town, she had been asked to stay the night to keep the musician company, she recalled:
“It was a mixed day. I visit with my mom and pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house … and Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ And I said, ‘Of course I will.’”
Later, Ashley went outside to welcome in a friend who had come to visit. She then went upstairs to retrieve her mother, but everything took a shocking turn for the worse, she continued:
“I went upstairs to let her know that [her] friend was there, and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovery.”
Oh my… That is gut-wrenching. In the days since her mother’s death on April 30, Ashley has been put in charge by her family to share details of her passing in hopes of shining a light on mental health. In doing so, the 54-year-old made sure to point out the difference between discussing her mother and discussing her mental health challenges, noting:
“When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and 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.”
The actress also pointed to the fact that the singer “couldn’t hang on” for her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which took place a day after her death. Looking back, she feels this highlights “the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her,” explaining:
“The barrier between the regard in which her peers held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie that the disease told her was so convincing.”
When asked to elaborate on what that “lie” was, she shared:
“That you’re not enough. That you’re not loved. That you’re not worthy. Her brain hurt. It physically hurt.”
As we reported, Ashley and her sister, Wynonna Judd, announced last month that the songwriter had died from “the disease of mental illness.” The next day, they appeared at the Country Music Hall of Fame to see their mother be honored for her work with The Judds (the musical duo made up of her and Wynonna). It was an emotional day for everyone involved, especially the sisters who broke down in tears while giving a speech in Judd’s honor.
Interestingly, Naomi had been open about her struggle with depression and anxiety for years. Back in 2016, she reflected on what it was like to stop touring with her oldest daughter in 2011, revealing on GMA:
“[Fans] see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am. But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad.”
Our hearts go out to all the Judds as they mourn this terribly sad loss. You can hear more about how Ashley and her family are coping in her full interview (below).
Thoughts, Perezcious readers?
If you are in crisis or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.