Naomi Judd dies of suicide at age 76

A devastating start to the mental health month

Country star – and half of the duo, The Judds – Naomi Judd has been open and honest about her struggle with severe depression for years. On April 30 of this year, the battle ended when the music star died by suicide at the age of 76; she is survived by her husband of 32, Larry Strickland, and her two daughters, actress/activist Ashley Judd and duo partner/country singer, Wynonna Judd.

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If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 help.

Naomi Judd: An Outspoken Mental Health Advocate

According to an article written for People, Judd first began struggling with a crippling mental illness in 2012, after the conclusion of The Judd’s Last Encore tour. She was faced with an empty void where long-suppressed memories of sexual abuse and other childhood traumas surfaced, triggering a downward spiral into a state of depression. In a 2016 interview with Robin Roberts for Good Morning America, with drug-induced tremors in her hands, she revealed a diagnosis that highlighted the intensity of her condition as she spoke about the vast gap between her public perception and her behind-closed-door reality. . doors:

They see me in rhinestones, with glitter in my hair, that’s really who I am. But then I would come home and not leave the house for 3 weeks, and not take off my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene; it was really bad…What I’ve been through is extreme; my final diagnosis was ‘severe depression: treatment resistant” because they tried me on everything they had in their arsenal and I really felt like if I went through this I want someone to see that they can survive because there are 40 million of us out there.

– Naomi Judd, Good Morning America, 2016

Judd’s Heartfelt Thoughts Written in Letter for Mental Health Week

As if the situation wasn’t devastating enough in light of the recent tragedy, a letter the singer wrote in 2018 during Mental Health Awareness Week has been re-shared. In this letter, she expresses the importance of destigmatizing mental illness in order to better understand suicide and the circumstances surrounding an act that seems unthinkable to the vast majority of the population. To the top, she writes, “As a singer who chronicled a lifelong battle with mental illness… and the recent deaths of chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, [it is] clear that no amount of fame or fortune can protect people from the despair that can lead some of us to take our own lives.”

Her death was announced just 24 hours before she and daughter/duo partner Wynonna Judd would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

A note on mental health and wellness

The news of Naomi Judd’s death comes just before May, the month of mental health, for nearly 70 years. To raise awareness and share the importance of general mental and emotional wellness, the nonprofit organization, Mental Health America, decides on an overall theme for the month each year. This year’s theme is “Mental Health Month—Living with Mental Illness,” encouraging people with varying degrees of mental illness to share what it’s really like to experience the world as they do it. Professionals believe that much of the stigma surrounding mental health and the subsequent care it deserves and requires could be eradicated if more people had not only a deeper general understanding, but also a vocabulary to use. Like any other disease, especially those that is easier to see or understand, mental illnesses come with their own set of challenges, shortcomings, and general experiences. Heartbreak and destruction have proven time and again that our minds are sometimes, often times, our own worst enemy; that just because the symptoms are not external or otherwise visible does not mean they are less real, and less harmful to the person struggling.

Like so many others, Judd’s heartbreaking story proves the depth and despair of mental illness. In a culture that praises health and well-being, we are constantly reminded of the disconnect between physical well-being and that of the mind: it is often easier to overlook those who suffer only within themselves than to push for broad support of mental health. During this Mental Health Awareness Month, share personal stories and experiences, live openly and honestly, and reach out to those who struggle under the weight of an invisible force.

Naomi Judd dies of suicide at age 76

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