Ashley Judd wants The Judds singer’s mother to be remembered for how she lived, not how she died.
The Double jeopardy actor and humanitarian written in a New York Times guest essay about the horror of that day – when Naomi Judd died by suicide – and the family’s efforts to keep records sealed from the death inquest.
“April 30, 2022 was the most overwhelming day of my life,” Ashley began. “My beloved mother, Naomi Judd, who had come to believe her mental illness would get worse, never better, took her own life that day. The trauma of discovering and then holding her body haunts my nights. “
The activist said the family is still grieving the country superstar, who struggled with mental illness, while “the rampant and cruel misinformation that has been spread about her death and our relationship with her haunts my days. horror will only be compounded if details about her death are revealed under Tennessee law that generally allows the release of police reports, including family interviews, from closed investigations.”
Ashley wrote that while she “couldn’t help” Naomi, who “lost a long battle against a relentless enemy who in the end was too strong to defeat,” she can “do something about how she’s remembered. And now which I know from bitter experience of the pain caused to families who have had a loved one die by suicide, I intend to make the resulting invasion of privacy — the privacy of the deceased and the privacy of the family — a personal as well as a legal cause ».
Earlier this month, Naomi’s family — Ashley, her sister and Judds singer Wynonna and Naomi’s husband Larry Strickland — filed a motion in a Tennessee court to have police reports and recordings from the investigation sealed. about Naomi’s death. They argued that releasing the records – including interviews with Ashley and Strickland – would cause trauma and irreparable harm. Tennessee law typically allows law enforcement records to be released, but police are allowed to keep records during an ongoing investigation. Once an investigation is closed, the records are usually released, according to the Associated Press.
In her essay, Ashley – who discovered Naomi in a bedroom and was there as she took her last breaths – said she “felt crushed and weak as the police began questioning me while my mother’s last life faded away” in those final days. moments. . “I wanted to comfort her, telling her how she was going to see her dad and younger brother as she ‘went home’… Instead, without indicating that I had options about when, where and how to participate. I began a series of interviews that felt forced and imposed on me that pulled me away from the precious end of my mother’s life and at a time when we ourselves were desperately trying to decipher what might have prompted her to take her own life that day. day, we each shared whatever we could think of about mom, her mental illness, and her painful story.”
Ashley made it clear that the investigators were simply following protocol – “terrible, antiquated interview procedures and methods of interacting with family members who are in shock or trauma and that the people in my mother’s bedroom on that sad day were not evil or wrong. I guess they did as they were taught.”However, ‘the men present left us feeling stripped of all sensitive boundaries, interrogated and, in my case, like I was a possible suspect in my mother’s suicide.’
He said he hoped the petition, which was filed to prevent public disclosure of the investigation file, including “police interviews of us at a time when we were most vulnerable” and Naomi’s “deeply intimate personal and medical information” would not be made public. . in any way. He said they are “nervously waiting for the courts to decide.”
Ashley expressed “deep sympathy for Vanessa Bryant and all the families who have had to endure the anguish of a public or legal release of the most intimate, raw details surrounding a death. Raw details are only used to fuel a gossip economy, and since we cannot rely on basic human decency, we need laws to enforce this restriction,” he wrote, calling on leaders in Washington, D.C. and at the state level to provide basic protections “for those involved in the police response to mental health emergencies”.
Ashley finished by reminiscing about her mom and her rise from a small town in Kentucky to a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. And while Naomi had no shortage of accolades and accomplishments, “I know her as my mom, who put salt and pepper shakers next to every place at our family dinners and enjoyed talking about topics as diverse as paleoanthropology and neuroscience,” she wrote. “She should be remembered for how she lived, which was with silly humour, stage glory and unfailing kindness – not for the intimate details of how she suffered when she died.”
Ashley shared her essay on social media on Wednesday, writing: “Today, I give my soul to describe the four interviews I was given no choice to do on the day our beloved mother died, and why such material should to remain private for all families in the disaster following suicide. We need better law enforcement processes and laws that allow suffering families and their deceased loved ones to have more dignity around the painful details of their suffering. Autopsies are public records. So are toxicology reports. We have shared our story so openly, to raise awareness, to reduce stigma, to help people recognize and make sure that we are all facing mental illness together. What else do people want us to give out of our grief?”
Naomi died on April 30 at the age of 76. “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” Ashley said in a statement on behalf of herself and her sister. The next day, the Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, with Wynonna accepting the honor. Announce the scheduled The Judds: The Final Tour she would go on without her mother but as a tribute to her.
Earlier this month, it was reported that Ashley and Wynonna were left out of Naomi’s will with Strickland serving as executor of her $25 million estate. However, the daughters and Strickland put on a united front soon after in their deposition to keep the investigation into Naomi’s death sealed. According to the documents, Ashley was in “clinical shock, active trauma and acute distress” after her mother’s death and did not want the tapes of the police interviews released. Strickland said he did not know his interviews with police were being taped. The report also said the family wants to bar the release of Naomi’s medical records.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.