Breaking News
More () »

Naomi Judd died by suicide, daughter Ashley Judd reveals

Ashley Judd said the family decided to speak out before details about Naomi Judd's cause of death “become public without our control.”

WASHINGTON — If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.

Ashley Judd opened up about her mother's death by suicide and encouraged people to seek help for their mental health in an interview with ABC News Thursday morning.

Ashley Judd explained to Diane Sawyer that the family chose to speak out now before details about what happened on the day of their mother's death “become public without our control.”

Country music star Naomi Judd died on April 30, one day before she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the time, Ashley Judd and her sister, Wynonna Judd, had only said that their mother died due to "the disease of mental illness." Naomi and Wynonna Judd were among the most popular duos of the 1980s, scoring 14 No. 1 hits during their nearly three-decade career performing as The Judds.  

During the emotional ABC News interview, Ashley Judd spoke in detail about the mental health struggles her mom had been experiencing before her death. 

"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...it's very real and it's enough to -- it lies -- it's savage. And my mother, our mother, couldn't hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. I mean 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 described. 

On the day of her mother's death, Judd said she was home in Tennessee and went to visit her mom's house, as she did every day when in Tennessee. 

“Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ And I said, ‘Of course I will,’” Judd described about her visit. Sometime later, Judd went outside to bring in a friend of her mother’s who had arrived as well. 

“I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her,” Judd said, adding that she has both grief and trauma from that moment.

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2012, file photo, Naomi Judd poses at the Hero Dog Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"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," she explained. 

She added that their family wants to keep other details private and hopes everyone can respect that their mother is entitled to her dignity and privacy.

"I want to be very careful when we talk about this today, for anyone who is having those ideas or impulses, to talk to someone, to share, to be vulnerable," she said, encouraging anyone who was having thoughts of harming themselves to reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

While her family tries to heal, she also wants others to remember her mother for the woman that she was over the years and the impact she had on people.

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
FILE - Naomi Judd, left, and Ashley Judd arrive at the LA premiere of "Olympus Has Fallen" in Los Angeles on March 18, 2013.

"Mom was a brilliant conversationalist, she was a star, she was an underrated song writer. And she was someone who suffered from mental illness and had a lot of trouble getting off the sofa. Except going into town every day to the Cheesecake Factory, where all the staff knew and loved her," Judd said.  

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.

Before You Leave, Check This Out