Naomi Judd was open about mental illness and suicidal thoughts

The country music world and many others are in shock after the sudden and unexpected death of country music icon and Hall of Famer Naomi Judd of The Judds on Saturday, April 30 at the age of 76. Although Naomi Judd has experienced health issues throughout her life and career, including a diagnosis of Hepatitis C in 1991 which ended the duo’s full-time tour, this is the disturbing statement from the two. famous daughters of Naomi Judd – Wynonna, member of Judds, and actress Ashley – who was very saddened and concerned about the situation.

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our mother-in-law to mental illness,” Wynonna and Ashley said in a joint statement. “We are broken. We navigate deep mourning and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her audience. We are in uncharted territory.

While it’s easy to speculate what this statement means, the truth is that we have no confirmation at this time (at the time of this post) that Naomi Judd has died by suicide. What we do know is that Naomi Judd publicly struggled with mental illness throughout her life. But instead of hiding it, she tried to use her experience with the disease to share her wisdom and inspire others to overcome their difficulties, and spoke openly about suicide and how it is preventable.

In December 2016, Naomi Judd released a memoir about her struggles with mental illness titled River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope.

In the book, she chronicled her battles with depression brought on by growing up in a family with many secrets and haunted by the death of one of her younger siblings while receiving little or no emotional support within the family. family structure. Later, Naomi found herself reluctantly married and expecting her first child when she was just 17 years old. Four years later, she was a single mother with two young children who had survived beatings and rape, and were ultimately abandoned without financial support. After attending nursing school, Naomi eventually decided to start The Judds with Wynonna, where she eventually found stability and eventually popular success through country music.

But that was by no means the end of Naomi Judd’s emotional problems. Although she struggled with her hepatitis C diagnosis to finally be free of the disease five years later, after completing a reunion tour with her daughter Wynonna in 2011, Naomi Judd suffered the worst health crisis of her life. life. She was diagnosed with severe treatment-resistant depression and anxiety, suffering from ineffective treatments and therapies including antidepressants and other medications, ultimately leading to suicidal thoughts when she felt she had no no other choice.

But Naomi Judd persevered, eventually writing River of Time: My Descent into Depression to hopefully help others find a way out of the severe depths of depression she found herself in.

As Naomi Judd Explain about his illness, “I literally couldn’t leave the house for weeks. I was completely immobilized and every second felt like a day. It’s so beyond meaning, but I thought, ‘My family will surely know that I was in so much pain and I thought they would have wanted me to end this pain [through suicide].'”

In October 2018, during Mental Health Awareness Week and in the wake of Suicide Prevention Month, Naomi Judd, along with physician Daniel R. Weinberger, MD, write an open letter addressing the suicide epidemic, stating that “suicide is actually one of the leading causes of preventable death among these mental illnesses.”

The open letter said in part,

For anyone who mourns the death of someone who committed suicide, an inevitable question arises: why did this happen? Unfortunately, we don’t have very good answers. We know that suicidal behavior accompanies many behavioral brain disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Suicide is actually one of the leading preventable causes of death among these mental illnesses. Addiction is another common brain disorder among people who commit suicide

Currently, a disproportionate amount of research focuses on suicide as a sociological and psychological phenomenon, but the latest studies on aggression and impulsivity may give us better answers...

Many studies also show that suicide is hereditary and has genetic roots. In fact, twin studies show that 43% of the likelihood of suicide is determined by genes. Although it remains unclear which specific genes contribute to the risk of suicidal behavior, family studies have consistently shown that suicidal behavior is partly explained by the transmission within families of impulsive and aggressive traits. And relatives of suicidal people have high levels of impulsive-aggressive traits and are themselves more likely to have a history of suicidal behavior.

To better understand this problem, we need to integrate the study of suicide into mainstream neuroscience and treat the disease like any other brain disorder. People who commit suicide experience problems with mood, impulse control, and aggression, all of which involve discrete circuits in the brain that regulate these aspects of the human experience, but we still don’t understand how these circuits come together. disturb in the brains of suicide victims. .

Refocusing research on suicide requires public and private collaborations. Currently, about six times more people in the United States die by suicide than from HIV/AIDS or heart disease, but the money to study suicide is lacking. In a recent column for the New York TimesDr. Richard Friedman pointed to this funding disparity, noting that heart disease researchers receive 29 times more federal funding than suicide and suicide prevention scientists. In fact, the federal government spent more money last year studying dietary supplements than understanding why Americans decide to kill themselves.

It’s time we did better.

The concern and grief felt at the death of Naomi Judd is compounded by the fact that she was to be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at the institution’s annual medal ceremony on Sunday, May 1, the day after his death. While it is comforting for many country fans to know that Naomi Judd was still alive to enjoy the honor of becoming a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, some wonder if the pressure of having to showing up, playing and talking wouldn’t have been too much for her.

But The Judds’ induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame was the country music community’s reunion to honor Naomi and Wynonna for their contributions to American popular culture, including the duo’s perseverance through adversity, which is an integral part of their history. This year’s Hall of Fame medal ceremony is sure to be moody, but inducting The Judds was most certainly the Hall of Fame’s right move, and not too soon.

Naomi and her daughter Wynonna also recently performed their song “Love Can Build A Bridge” written by Naomi Judd, featuring Paul Overstreet and John Barlow Jarvis at the 2022 CMT Awards on April 11. The song was one of the duo’s last hits in 1990. On the same day, the duo also announced that they would be embarking on a 10-date “final tour” starting September 30.

This tour will no longer take place, but country music fans can be sated that prior to Naomi Judd’s passing, their debt of gratitude to her and The Judds had been paid by Hall of Fame recognition. And through Naomi’s words and experiences with mental illness which she was so open and expressive about, I hope others can find hope and perseverance through this most tragic illness in memory of Naomi Judd .

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If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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