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Heartbreaking New Details Emerge About Naomi Judd’s Death Scene

Photo Credit: Stephen Cohen / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Stephen Cohen / Getty Images

New details are emerging about the tragic death of country singer Naomi Judd. She died on April 30, 2022, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Her two daughters are fighting to keep her memory alive while coming to terms with the sudden loss of the celebrated country singer and mother.

Judd crafted a groundbreaking career as a single mom

Judd was born Diana Ellen Judd on January 11, 1946, in Ashland, Kentucky. She gave birth to her first child Christina Claire Ciminella – later Wynonna Judd – when she was only 18 years old. In 1968, Judd welcomed her second child Ashley and soon after divorced her first husband Michael Ciminella, leaving her to raise her daughters on her own.

A photo of Naomi Judd as a child on a memorial fan
A guest holds a memorial fan featuring a young Naomi Judd during CMT and Sandbox Live’s “Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration.” (Photo Credit: Jason Kempin / Getty Images for CMT)

After attending nursing school, Judd started working as a film and stage actress before starting her music career with daughter Wynonna. She changed her name from Diana to Naomi to better fit her own “spiritual, rural Kentucky conception of her true heritage.” She chose the name Naomi based on the biblical figure of the same name who finds herself raising two women without a husband.

Naomi and Wynonna formed the highly successful country music duo The Judds in 1983. The mother-daughter duo soon became one of country music’s favorite acts, scoring twenty top ten hits and cleaning up at country music award shows. They also won five Grammy Awards before the group disbanded in 1991 following Naomi’s hepatitis C diagnosis. Their farewell concert was one of the largest and most successful pay-per-view musical events in TV history.

Wynonna and Naomi Judd perform at the Superbowl
Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd, perform during the half-time show at the 1994 Superbowl XXVII football game at the Georgia Dome. (Photo Credit: George Rose/Getty Images)

Wynonna continued her musical career on her own while her sister Ashley Judd became a successful actress.

Judd’s battle with mental illness

Naomi Judd struggled with mental illness for years, battling against anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and suicidal thoughts. The medications she was prescribed also contributed to health issues like alopecia and tremors, which also contributed to her emotional distress. On April 30, 2022, 76-year-old Judd lost her battle with mental illness after ending her life with a firearm in her Tennessee home.

Wynonna and Naomi Judd at the 2022 CMT Music Awards
Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd attend the 2022 CMT Music Awards in Nashville on April 11, 2022 – 19 days before Naomi’s death. (Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images for CMT)

Ashley Judd discovered her mother’s body, and it was also recently revealed that a note was found at the scene. While the exact contents of the note are unknown, the coroner found the word “suitcase” written on Judd’s left hand in faded marker. The significance of the word has not been disclosed publicly.

‘All was forgiven’

The most heartbreaking aspect of Judd’s death is that her daughter Ashley found her while she was still alive. Ashley stayed with her mother in her final moments until first responders arrived, but it was too late. Naomi Judd was pronounced dead at the scene.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Ashley Judd shared how dealing with her mother’s death publicly has made the healing process difficult: “Her brain hurt, it physically hurt and I’m tasked with an exceedingly difficult task in disclosing the matter in the way my mother chose to continue to live.”

Naomi, Ashley and Wynonna Judd in the 90s
Naomi, Ashley, And Wynonna Judd in 1999. (Photo Credit: Robin Platzer / Twin Images / Getty Images)

“My most ardent wish for my mother is that when she transitioned, she was hopefully able to let go of any guilt or shame that she carried for any shortcomings she may have had in her parenting of my sister and me,” Ashley Judd on the Healing with David Kessler podcast. “Because certainly on my end, all was forgiven long ago, all was forgiven long ago.”

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If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards is a public historian and history content writer. After completing her Master’s in Public History at Western University in Ontario, Canada Elisabeth has shared her passion for history as a researcher, interpreter, and volunteer at local heritage organizations.

She also helps make history fun and accessible with her podcast The Digital Dust Podcast, which covers topics on everything from art history to grad school.

In her spare time, you can find her camping, hiking, and exploring new places. Elisabeth is especially thrilled to share a love of history with readers who enjoy learning something new every day!

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