On April 30, Wynonna and Ashley Judd announced the death of their mother, Naomi Judd. The tragic death of Naomi at the age of 76 shocked the music world. “Today we sisters witnessed a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to mental illness,” the couple posted on Instagram. The siblings shared that they were still trying to cope with their sudden and unexpected loss.
The country and western icon has opened up about her lifelong battle with extreme depression. She wrote about her struggles in her uncompromising memoir, River of Time. An interview the singer gave to Good Morning America offered insight into Naomi’s life before her death. She appeared emotionally fragile while speaking to Robin Roberts. Naomi explained that the medication she was taking made her hands shake and her face “bloated”. She admitted that she would retreat to her bed, not leave the house, speak to anyone, or even take a shower for weeks after the performance.
“What I’ve been through is extreme,” Naomi shared. “My final diagnosis was major depression, treatment-resistant because they tried me with everything they had in their arsenal.” But things finally seemed to be clearing up. Billboard reported that Naomi was set to tour for the first time in a decade and be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame alongside her daughter Wynonna. However, Naomi’s official cause of death revealed the true extent of her mental illness, and her death certificates will remain sealed for a heartbreaking reason.
Naomi Judd’s family doesn’t want any more pain and agony
Naomi Judd’s family “filed for an injunction” to seal her death certificates from the public. NBC News reported that their wish was granted after a judge ruled that releasing the documents would result in “emotional distress, pain and anguish.” The death certificates included vivid photos, illustrations and full details of Naomi’s death and how she ended her life.
Given her deep understanding of the subject, Naomi would likely support her family’s desire to keep the records under wraps. A study published in the BMJ’s medical journal (via Heath Day) showed that reporting on high-profile suicides sparks “copycat” tragedies. The more details come to light, the higher the risk of “suicide contagion”. If the reports include the method used, it results in an average 30% increase in deaths in the same way.
However, Naomi was aware of the importance of being open about mental health issues to encourage others to seek help. She told NBC News she has partnered with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health. “There are nearly 44 million people in America who suffer from mental illness in any given year,” Naomi said. “When you have a pulse, you’re fighting a fight, no matter what it is [depression]like 16 million people, or [anxiety], like 42 million people, or something else. And there is power in numbers [it means] you’re not alone.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.