Naomi Judd struggling with bipolar disorder when she took her own life, autopsy finds | American News


Grammy-winning country musician Naomi Judd was battling bipolar disorder when she took her own life and died at her Tennessee home earlier this year, according to a report released Friday by the local medical examiner, and a statement of her family added that she was dealing with post-traumatic stress, too.

Judd and his family had previously discussed in largely general terms his long battle with depression before his death by suicide in late April. But Friday’s report from the Nashville Medical Examiner’s Office, along with the statement from Judd’s loved ones, offered the most comprehensive description yet of the mental illnesses surrounding his depression.

The 76-year-old former singer had a “significant” history of anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, the medical examiner’s report said, citing information provided by her family. Judd had previously contemplated suicide and was dealing with ‘recent life stressors’ when she shot herself in the head at home in the late morning of April 30.

She was found seriously injured by her daughter, actor Ashley Judd. “A suicidal note” and a gun were found near Naomi Judd, according to the report.

Emergency responders were called to Naomi Judd’s home and rushed her to a hospital south of Nashville, where she was soon pronounced dead.

A toxicology test performed on blood taken from Judd’s body revealed traces of prescription drugs used to treat ‘major depression’, bipolar disorder and PTSD, according to the report signed by Nashville Assistant Medical Examiner Emily Dennison.

In response to the 13-page document, Judd’s family released a statement saying they had tried to manage diagnoses of PTSD and bipolar disorder, “which millions of Americans can relate to.”

“We have always openly shared both the joys of being a family as well as its sorrows,” the statement added. “Part of our story is that our matriarch was pursued by an unjust enemy.”

The main purpose of the report was to officially classify Judd’s manner of death as a suicide, although this was not questioned. The document also officially listed his cause of death as a gunshot wound near his right temple.

Judd’s family had recently filed a complaint in court in Nashville seeking to block the public release of any video or audio interviews of grieving relatives that authorities conducted immediately after the musician’s death, arguing that it would cause them “significant trauma and irreparable harm.” The case was tentatively scheduled to be heard on September 12.

At the time of her death, Judd was preparing to embark on a national tour with her other daughter, singer Wynonna. Naomi and Wynonna Judd played together as the country duo known as the Judds, which had 14 No. 1 hits and five Grammy wins over nearly three decades.

The couple sang about family and hailed the virtues of marriage and fidelity in hits such as Love Can Build a Bridge, Mama He’s Crazy and Why Not Me.

They were reaching a professional peak when doctors diagnosed Naomi with hepatitis in 1991. She stopped playing and her mental state declined significantly, she recounted in a 2017 interview.

“I walked into this deep, dark, absolutely terrifying hole and I couldn’t get out,” she said.

In an autobiographical book titled River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope, Judd also wrote, “I spent two years on my couch.

Before becoming a country music legend, Naomi Judd was born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky. She was working as a nurse when she and Wynonna began singing together, attracting a devoted following through unique harmonies that blended acoustic, bluegrass and blues music.

Naomi Judd died a day before she and Wynonna were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Her survivors, besides her daughters, included her husband Larry Strickland, a backing vocalist for Elvis Presley.


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