Naomi Judd died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 30, Ashley Judd, the 76-year-old country music superstar’s daughter, disclosed on Thursday.
The younger Judd made an appearance with Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America” early on May 12, revealing her mother’s specific cause of death during an emotional interview.
The 54-year-old actress addressed that her family agreed to put her in charge of speaking up publicly about her late mother’s suicide in an effort to shed light on mental illness and before it gets public in some other way after the autopsy is released.
“I’m tasked with an exceedingly difficult task in disclosing the manner of the way my mother chose not to continue to live,” Ashley told Sawyer.
“I’ve thought about it so much because once I say it, it cannot be unsaid. And so, because we don’t want it to be a part of the gossip economy, I will share with you that she used a weapon,” she said. “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.”
Ashley also disclosed that she was the one who found her mother’s body while visiting her home in Tennessee, adding that the experience has left her with both grief and trauma.
“I visit with my mom and pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house visiting as I am every day, and Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said ‘Of course I will,'” a teary-eyed Ashley said before going outside to bring in someone who had come to visit. “I went upstairs to let her know that her good friend was there and I discovered her.”
On April 30, Ashley and her sister, Wynonna Judd, announced in a statement to The Associated Press that they had lost their mother “to the disease of mental illness,” but didn’t elaborate.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement said. “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.”
She died the day before she and her daughter, Wynonna, were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Kentucky-born singer, together with Wynonna, won five Grammy awards as the country duo “The Judds.” Their songs include “Had a Dream (For the Heart),” and” and “Have Mercy.”
Ashley is an actor known for her roles in movies such as “Double Jeopardy,” “Heat,” and “Divergent.”
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.