Naomi Judd Autopsy Reveals Singer Died by Gunshot Wound, Left a Note
Naomi Judd's official autopsy confirms that she died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as her daughter, Ashley, previously revealed. She also had several prescription drugs in her system that are used to treat bipolar disorder.
Several media outlets, including the Associated Press and USA Today shared that the Williamson County medical examiner determined Judd (age 76) died by suicide. TMZ reports that it was a gunshot wound to the head, and that a suicide note was found near her body.
The family released a statement to coincide with the release of the autopsy, which is public record in Tennessee.
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. She was treated for PTSD and bipolar disorder, to which millions of Americans can relate.
Judd died on April 30, 2022, and her daughters, the Judds singing partner Wynonna Judd and actor Ashley Judd, turned to social media to share the news in a statement that attributed her death to her longtime struggle with mental illness. They ask for continued privacy with their new statement.
"Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness," the 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."
Ashley Judd spoke to Good Morning America on May 12, confirming rumors that her mother took her own life.
"She used a weapon. My mother used a firearm," Judd told Diane Sawyer in an emotional interview. "So 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."
Ashley Judd told Sawyer she was visiting her mother when she excused herself to go downstairs to let in a friend who had also come to visit.
"I went upstairs to let her know that her good friend was there, and I discovered her," Judd said, adding, "I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
The Judds rose to fame beginning with the release of their debut single, "Had a Dream (For the Heart)," in 1983. Their second single, "Mama He's Crazy," scored the mother-daughter duo their first of 14 No. 1 hits, and they went on to a long string of hits and awards.
Naomi Judd walked away from their career in 1991 after revealing that she had contracted Hepatitis C, forcing her to retire from her music career.
Wynonna Judd continued into a successful solo career, but that was not the end for the Judds. They reunited for the Power to Change Tour in 2000, and again in 2010 for what they said would be their final tour, the Last Encore Tour.
Naomi Judd was candid in her later years about her long-term battle with depression, especially during the period following that tour. In her 2016 memoir River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope, she wrote that she had been virtually immobilized for two years and experienced suicidal depression before ultimately finding help. She was later diagnosed with treatment-resistant severe depression.
"It’s so beyond making sense but I thought, ‘Surely my family will know that I was in so much pain and I thought they would have wanted me to end that pain,’" she recounted to People.
The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, May 1, just one day after Judd's death, and her daughters were both on hand to celebrate their mother's life and accomplishments at an unusually emotional Medallion Ceremony.
The Judds had announced their Final Tour in early April; they were slated to hit the road on Sept. 30 in Grand Rapids and wrap a month later in Nashville. On May 19, Wynonna Judd revealed that she will honor those dates, joined on various dates by Brandi Carlile, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Ashley McBryde and Trisha Yearwood. More guests for the tour are to be announced.
Anyone who might be experiencing suicidal thoughts is urged to seek help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.