Naomi Judd

Country Legend Naomi Judd Died by Suicide After Longtime Struggle with Mental Health

The world of country music is rattled. Last Saturday, April 30, 2022, legendary singer Naomi Judd tragically lost her life-long battle with mental illness. The 76-year-old leaves behind her daughter and singing partner Wynonna Judd and other daughter Ashley Judd. The pair of sisters tearfully accepted country music’s highest honor on behalf of The Judds the day after her passing.

Naomi Judd Dies By Suicide At 76 Years Old

Naomi Judd along with her daughter Wynonna Judd have been legends in the country music scene for a very long time. Together they have more than 14 chart-topping hits, five Grammy Awards, nine CMA Awards, and seven ACM awards. Though they hadn’t performed since 1991 after Naomi received a diagnosis of Hepatitis C, they finally appeared on stage together at last month’s CMT music awards. They had also recently announced that they would be going on tour one last tour. It was nearly sold-out and set to begin on September 30 and continue for nearly a month. (1)

Sadly, Naomi Judd’s two daughters Wynonna and Ashley announced their mother’s passing instead of tour updates. You can find the announcement on Ashley’s Instagram page. It reads:

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“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. 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.”

Naomi Judd is also survived by her husband of 36 years, Larry Strickland. He has not said much as of yet, other than that the family is asking for privacy.

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“Naomi Judd’s family request privacy during this heartbreaking time. No additional information will be released at this time.” his statement says.

Read: The Tragedy of Jim Carrey Just Keeps Getting Sadder and Sadder

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An Emotional Award Ceremony

Naomi and Wynonna Judd recently were notified that they would receive one of country music’s highest honors: To be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The ceremony for the award was scheduled for the day after Naomi Judd, ultimately, took her own life. Wynonna and Ashley Judd took the stage to tearfully accept the honor on behalf of The Judds and their late mother. (2)

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“I’m gonna make this fast because my heart’s broken — and I feel so blessed,” Wynonna said in her acceptance speech. “I mean, it’s a very strange dynamic to be this broken and this blessed.”

The ceremony included a beautiful video tribute to the lives and career of The Judds. It included their humble beginnings, incredible off-chance discovery, and their rise to stardom. Naturally, other prominent figures in the country music world took the stage to perform tributes and speak about the singing duo. In particular, they paid tribute to the late, great, Naomi Judd. One of those was fellow Kentucky and Hall of Fame resident Ricky Skaggs.

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“Not only are we feeling and mourning your mom’s passing,” he told Wynonna and Ashley, “but all of country music and all of the people around the world that love your music and love the Judds are here praying for you guys and just saying, keep going, keep going. Don’t turn back.” he said.

Naomi Judd’s Struggle With Mental Health

In recent years, Naomi Judd really opened up about her ongoing struggle with her mental health. She revealed in 2016 that three years prior, she was experiencing very dark days. So much that she contemplated and even somewhat planned out how she could end her own life. This was all in spite of medications, therapy, and stays in psychiatric clinics. (3)

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“Nobody can understand it unless you’ve been there,” Naomi Judd told People magazine. “Think of your very worst day of your whole life – someone passed away, you lost your job, you found out you were being betrayed, that your child had a rare disease – you can take all of those at once and put them together and that’s what depression feels like.”

Naomi suffered from mental health issues due to childhood trauma. This included sexual abuse from her great-uncle. She explained how she couldn’t leave the house for weeks. The lack of exercise eventually made her legs so weak that they had to install an elevator in their home because she didn’t have the strength to climb the stairs. She told people that she thought suicide was the only option.

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“It’s so beyond making sense but I thought, ‘Surely my family will know that I was in so much pain and I thought they would have wanted me to end that pain [through suicide].’”

Read: Eddie Murphy Paid for Comedian Redd Foxx’s Funeral & Headstone after He Died Penniless at 68

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Mental Health Advocate

The legendary singer said in 2016 that it was still a constant struggle. In 2018, she continued to speak out about her battle with anxiety and depression. She wrote a letter with Dr. Daniel R. Weinberger about mental illness and suicide. They talk about the science and brain chemistry behind suicide and the research that needs to be done to solve the problem. (4)

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“Currently a disproportionate amount of research focuses on suicide as a sociological and psychological phenomenon, but the latest studies on aggression and impulsivity may give us better answers. The website BuzzFeed has a video with almost 7 million views where a man named Kevin Hines talks about how he attempted suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. “The millisecond my hand left rail, I felt instant regret,” Hines says. He then adds, “I thought to myself, ‘No one will know I didn’t want to die.’” they said in the letter. “Mr. Hines’ explanation fits with current scientific thinking that the majority of suicides occur as impulsive acts of aggression, with the brain functioning in an altered state. Many suicides happen impulsively and are usually successful if the person has easy access to lethal means such as firearms, poisons, a means of self-hanging, or hazardous heights. When researchers have studied people who died by suicide —interviewing family members and physicians, and studying medical records, in a process called a psychological — they have found those who completed suicide tended to have higher levels of aggression.”

Suicide Needs To Be A Part Of Mainstream Neuroscience

They also spoke of the genetic component of depression, anxiety, and suicide. The pair wrote about the need for suicidal thoughts to be studied in mainstream neuroscience and be treated just like any other brain disorder.

“People who commit suicide are experiencing problems with mood, impulse control and aggression, all of which involve discrete circuits in the brain that regulate these aspects of human experience, but we still don’t understand how these circuits go haywire in the brains of suicide victims.”

Our thoughts go out to the Judd family in this heartbreaking time. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Keep Reading: ‘Meghan won’t be back. She disliked England’ – ex-Vanity Fair editor

Sources

  1. Country Legend Naomi Judd Died by Suicide After Longtime Struggle with Mental Health: Sources.” People. May 2, 2022.
  2. A Day After Her Mother’s Death, Wynonna Judd Tearfully Accepts Country’s Highest Honor: ‘My Heart’s Broken’.” People. Nancy Kruh. may 2, 2022.
  3. Naomi Judd Reveals She Suffered from Suicidal Depression: ‘No One Can Understand It Unless You’ve Been There’.” People. Eileen Finan. December 6, 2016.
  4. Naomi Judd Offers Hope to Those Battling Depression During Mental Illness Awareness Week.” People.  Nicole Sands. October 2, 2018.
Julie Hambleton
Freelance Writer
Julie Hambleton has a BSc in Food and Nutrition from the Western University, Canada, is a former certified personal trainer and a competitive runner. Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
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