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Naomi Judd, matriarch of the country music duo the Judds, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound a day before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, her family said on Thursday.
Judd, 76, suffered from mental illness, a disease that tells victims “you are not loved, you are not enough, that you are not worthy,” her daughter Ashley Judd said in an interview aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“She used a weapon. She mother used a firearm, ”she said of the death, which was announced on April 30.
Judd told Diane Sawyer on Thursday that it was “obviously way too soon” to be speaking about Naomi but that her father and sister “deputized” her to “speak on behalf of the family” before details of her mother’s death emerged in the tabloids and mean “without our control.”
“That’s really the impetus for this timing,” she said, later adding, “We don’t want it to be part of the gossip economy.”
“When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real. It lies. It’s savage. Our mother could n’t hang on until she was inducted into the hall of fame by her peers of her. I mean, that is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her,” Judd said. “The regard in which they held her de ella could n’t penetrate into her heart de ella, and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.”
She described that ‘lie’ as, “You’re not enough. You’re not worthy.”
Naomi Judd was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on May 1 as part of the Judds. “My mama loved you so much, and she appreciated your love for her and I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,” Ashley said from the stage. “Your esteem for her de ella and regard for her de ella really penetrated her heart de ella, and it was your affection de ella for her de ella that did keep her going in these last few years.”
On “Good Morning America,” she said that Naomi “suffered from mental illness. She had a lot of trouble getting off the sofa.” But she lit up when describing her mother’s trips into town to the Cheesecake Factory “where all the staff knew and loved her… and she always had $100 bills stuffed in her bra, and she was passing them out to the janitorial staff. Just an unfailingly kind, sensitive woman.”
The family’s revelation followed news that the rate of US gun deaths emerged during the pandemic to the highest point since 1994. Gun suicides – the leading cause of gun deaths – totaled 24,245 in 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published on Tuesday.
Naomi and her daughter Wynonna Judd, 57, made up The Judds, the singing, guitar-playing duo inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on May 1.
It was Ashley Judd who found her mother’s body, just a few minutes after they had embraced during a visit at her mother’s Tennessee home. Ashley Judd said she stepped outside to meet a friend and when she came back inside her mother she found her upstairs.
“I have both grief and trauma” from discovering the body, Ashley Judd said.
“I really accepted the love my mother was capable of giving me. I knew she was fragile, so when I walked around the back of their house and came in the kitchen door, and she said, ‘There’s my darling. There’s my baby,’ and she lit up, I savored those moments. And every time we hugged and she drank me in, I was very present for those tactile experiences. Because I knew there would come a time when she would be gone.”
Ashley also read a letter written by her sister Wynonna.
“I need to take some time to process and I need this time to myself. I’m not ready yet to speak publicly about what happened so I know you understand why I’m not there today,” it read, in part. “We will do this piece differently and I’m grateful we’re connected as we walk together through this storm. I just can’t believe she’s gone. I’m here. This will take time. I love you, dear sister; I’m proud of you and I’m here whenever you need me.”
In Canada, if you’re thinking about suicide or are worried about a friend or loved one, please contact the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 toll free or connect via text at 45645, from 4 pm to midnight ET. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.