The Grammy-winning singer, one half of mother-daughter duo The Judds, died April 30 at 76. Judd’s daughters Wynonna and Ashley announced her death on social media that day.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the sisters tweeted. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public.”
The Williamson County medical examiner in Tennessee determined Judd’s manner of death and said Judd had a history of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder and had left a “note with suicidal connotations” near the scene, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY.
In a statement, Judd’s family asked for prayers and thoughts for those who live with mental illness and their loved ones, and they provided information for contacting the 988 Suicide Crisis Lifeline.
“We have always shared openly both the joys of being family as well its sorrows, too. One part of our story is that our matriarch was dogged by an unfair foe,” said Judd’s family, which includes the sisters and Naomi Judd’s husband Larry Strickland. “The toxicology and autopsy reports are as we expected. She was treated for PTSD and bipolar disorder, to which millions of Americans can relate. We continue to reel from this devastation. We appreciate respectful privacy as we, her widower and children, mourn.”
Judd’s daughter Ashley previously revealed details of her mother’s death in an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that aired May 12.
Ashley Judd said mother Naomi “used a firearm,” which the autopsy confirmed.
“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 said.
The actress also said she visited with her mother that day and she was the one who “discovered her.”
“Sister and Pop deputized me in certain ways to speak on behalf of the family at this early time before details about the 30th of April become public (‘a part of the gossip economy’) and are out of our control — whether it’s the autopsy or the exact manner of her death. That is the impetus for this, otherwise, it’s way too soon,” she told Sawyer.
Earlier in August, the Judd family filed a court petition seeking to prevent the release of documents related to Naomi Judd’s death. The petition was filed in Williamson County Chancery Court, outside of Nashville, on behalf of Strickland and her daughters. The petition says records from the investigation include video and audio interviews conducted immediately after Judd’s death, which would cause “significant trauma and irreparable harm” upon release.
In addition to the video and audio records, the family requested all investigative materials be kept confidential.
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The petition said multiple media outlets, including the Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network, submitted records requests for the documents created during the investigation, including toxicology and autopsy reports.
According to the lawsuit, toxicological and autopsy reports are exempt from the family’s request for privacy because they are constituted by Tennessee open records laws as public records.
The family shared a statement after filing their petition, calling the day Naomi Judd died “the most shattering day of our lives.”
“Our beloved mother and wife succumbed to mental illness. In the aftermath of this tragedy, our family has tried to grieve, together, with our community, and importantly, with the privacy that everyone who loses a family member deserves,” they said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline which provides confidential 24/7 support by dialing 9-8-8.
Contributing: Marcus K. Dowling and Molly Davis, The Tennessean