Naomi Judd‘s death by suicide on April 30, 2022, at the age of 76 left her daughters Wynonna Judd, 59, and Ashley Judd, 55, grieving and in shock. In the months that followed, details of the tragic death emerged — most notably, that her younger daughter, Double Jeopardy star Ashley, had discovered her after her suicide.
Of the moment, Ashley told Anderson Cooper, it was “traumatic and unexpected because it was death by suicide and I found her. And, so, it had this calamitous dynamic, my grief was in lockstep with trauma.” Ashley also revealed during the January 10 episode of Anderson’s All There Is podcast what she said as he held the country icon in her last breaths. “Even when I walked in that room and I saw that she had harmed herself, the first thing out of my mouth was, ‘Momma, I see how much you’ve been suffering and it is okay… I am here, and it is okay to let go.’”
Ashley admitted that despite the trauma, she was “so glad” she was there for her mother. “I think that the death of a parent is something for which we, at least conceptually, have some kind of preparation,” she explained. “I also knew that she was walking with mental illness and that her brain hurt and that she was suffering.”
Ashley and Wynonna, who was the other half of country music duo The Judds with Naomi, issued a statement on their mother’s death. “Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the emotional statement read. “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,” they also said.
An autopsy obtained by HollywoodLife in August of 2022, along with Ashley’s accounts, confirmed that Naomi died of a gunshot wound to the head. She had also left a suicide note, and the report by the medical examiner of Williamson County in Tennessee noted her history with anxiety and depression.
Naomi also left behind her husband of 32 years, Larry Strickland, when she died.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.