Ashley Judd Speaks About the Death of Her Mother Naomi from Mental Illness

Ashley Judd opened up about the death of her mother, Naomi Judd, in a new interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.

The actress said she wanted to speak before things “become public without our control.”

Judd explained that the family chose to speak out before the autopsy results were released to the public. “So that’s really the impetus for this timing. Otherwise, it’s obviously way too soon. So that’s important for us to say up front,” she told ABC News.

Judd spoke about her mother’s battle with mental illness saying, “when we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important and — 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.”

Through tears, she explained that she was the one who found her mother.  Judd said she was visiting with her mother who asked her to stay with her.

Judd explained that she went outside to welcome a friend who came to visit her mother and when she went back upstairs to let her know, she discovered her mother had died of suicide.

“Because we don’t want it to be part of the gossip economy, I will share with you that she used a weapon. Mother used a firearm,” Judd said. “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 obviously was suffering,” Judd added. “And, as such, her days up until that moment — were hurtful to her.”

“My mother is entitled to her dignity and privacy,” she said before asking anyone who is having suicidal thoughts to seek help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to:

  • Suicide Prevention Hotline:1-800- 273-8255

  • Text “Talk” to: 741-741

  • Visit:

Judd honored her mother’s life and legacy saying, “Mom was a brilliant conversationalist … she was a star, she was an underrated songwriter,” Judd said. “And she was someone who suffered from mental illness, you know, and had a lotta trouble getting off the sofa, except to go into town every day to the Cheesecake Factory, where all the staff knew and loved her.”

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She also read a letter from her sister Wynonna Judd, who was not ready to speak publicly.

“I’m thinking a lot about you today. I love you!!!!” Wynnona wrote. “I’ve been looking at photos of us when we were little. LOL, Good Lord. You were such a cutie pie. I laugh and I cry, and I thank God we have each other. 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,” Wynonna shared. “We will do this piece differently. We have each other, 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.”

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