Ashley Judd is sharing more about her mother, Naomi Judd’s, death. The Emmy–nominated actor spoke to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America in her first interview since Naomi died on April 30 at 76. Ashley said it was “exceedingly difficult” and “obviously way too soon” to discuss details of her mother’s death. However, she added that she and her family — including her sister, Wynonna Judd, who performed with Naomi in country duo the Judds — didn’t want information about Naomi “to be part of the gossip economy.” Speaking as a representative of the family, Ashley confirmed that Naomi died by suicide, adding that she discovered her mom after she killed herself with a firearm. “I have both grief and trauma from discovering her,” Ashley said. She continued that the family wanted to keep other details private because their “mother is entitled to her dignity and her privacy.” Ashley also encouraged people contemplating suicide to seek help.
Naomi died just days before the Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wynonna and Ashley spoke on her behalf at the ceremony. “The regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie that the disease told her was so convincing,” Ashley said on GMA, speaking on her mother’s long history of mental illness. She also expressed “a depth of gratitude” from herself and Wynonna, and read a letter on air in which Wynonna explained she was “not ready yet to speak publicly.”
Ashley and Wynonna — along with family, friends, fans, and other country musicians — are set to honor Naomi at a public memorial at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on May 15. The memorial will air as a program titled “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration” on CMT at 6 p.m. ET.