Naomi Judd, the country music icon who died on April 30 at the age of 75, died of a self-inflicted firearm wound, her daughter, Ashley Judd, disclosed on Thursday morning.
Ashley Judd made an appearance on “Good Morning America” to speak with Diane Sawyer about her mother’s death and how the Judd family has been coping in the weeks since. She said her family wanted to control the flow of information about the death before an autopsy was released.
“She used a weapon…my mother used a firearm,” Ashley told Sawyer. “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 said that she was deputized by her family to discuss her mother’s death in order to shed light on the disease and shine a light on a path for fans that need help.
“My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish, and she was walked home,” she said, adding, “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 lies, it’s savage.”
Ashley also said that despite her mother’s imminent induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame, she wasn’t able to keep facing the disease.
“Our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers,” she said. “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 the disease told her was so convincing.”
Ashley also detailed her mother’s final day.
“It was a mixed day,” she said. “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. Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course I will.’…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.”
She also encouraged fans to reach out the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) if they need help.
In a statement released by Ashley Judd and her sister, Wynonna, immediately following their mother’s death, the two attributed her death to “the disease of mental illness.”
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” the statement said, according to the Associated Press. “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grievance and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
On the day following Naomi Judd’s death, The Judds, a musical duo composed of Wynonna Judd and her mother, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in a tearful ceremony.
“I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew mom would probably talk the most,” Wynonna told the audience during the induction. “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.”