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Country music legend Naomi Judd, who died late last month at the age of 76, died of a self-inflicted firearm wound, her daughter, Hollywood star Ashley Judd, revealed.
The Grammy winner, who performed alongside daughter Wynonna Judd in the top-selling country music duo The Judds, died on April 30, just one day before she was scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as a member of The Judds.
Wynonna Judd, 57, and sister Ashley Judd, 54, confirmed their mother's death in a statement to TODAY on April 30.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement said. “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 opened up about her mother's death in an interview Thursday with ABC News, revealing Naomi Judd “used a firearm.”
“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 added. “When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real, and it lies, it’s savage.”
Naomi Judd had been candid for many years about her struggle with mental illness, even publishing a 2016 memoir about the subject, “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope,” which she called a “survivor’s manual about how to survive depression and anxiety.”
During a visit to TODAY in December 2017, she described falling into a “dark hole of depression” in 2011 that came “out of nowhere.”
“I didn’t get off my couch for two years,” revealed Judd. “I was so depressed that I couldn’t move. ... My husband (Larry Strickland) and my girlfriends and Ashley would come over and I would just go upstairs and lock the door to my bedroom. ... You become immobilized.”
“That’s how bad it can get,” she added. “It’s hard to describe. You go down in this deep, dark hole of depression and you don’t think that there’s another minute.’”
The same year, the “Love Can Build a Bridge” singer told NBC News that depression, which can be genetic, struck members of both sides of her family.
“My brain simply doesn’t make any of the happy chemicals it’s supposed to, and I have to use medication to give me a chance to have a life,” she explained.
“I used say to myself, looking in the mirror, 'I’m Naomi freaking Judd. I got this.' I even wrote it out and taped it there. But when the problem is your brain, when the problem involves the way that you’re thinking and the way you’re living every day of your life, you can’t pull that off anymore,” she added.
One day after announcing their mother’s death, Wynonna and Ashley Judd honored their mother at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
"My momma loved you so much, and she appreciated your love for her, and I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,” Ashley Judd told the audience.
“Your esteem for her and regard for her really penetrated her heart," she added, "and it was your affection for her that did keep her going in these last few years.”