Country Music Legend’s Death Spurs Conversation on Lethal Means Safety, Mental Health, and Suicide

Country Music Legend’s Death Spurs Conversation on Lethal Means Safety, Mental Health, and Suicide

Naomi Judd presenting the Military Dog Award Category (Author: State Farm Source: Flickr)

Naomi Judd’s Family Controls Their Narrative by Public Disclosure Despite Heartbreak

Naomi Judd was a giant, an accomplished talent who saw the importance of connectedness by sharing her story,”

— Tony Coder, Chairperson of AAS

WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES, May 13, 2022 / — Naomi Judd, American singer-songwriter, best-selling author, and actor, died by suicide Saturday, April 30th at the age of 76. Her daughters Ashley and Wynonna Judd released a statement sharing that they had lost their mother, “to the disease of mental illness.” In recent years, Judd was open about her lived experience with depression and anxiety. In her 2016 memoir, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, she wrote, “Radical acceptance is to know that painful things are still going to happen, but how we respond makes a difference.” Judd’s family have reluctantly disclosed their mother’s method of suicide today due to public pressure. Ashley Judd has imparted the importance of distinguishing the differences between who her mother was and how she died.

Dr. Edwin Shneidman, the founder of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) and its principal journal for suicide studies, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, coined the term psycheache observing that suicide should be viewed as an end to one’s psychological pain as there is no singular cause for a death by suicide. “As loved ones and fans mourn the loss of Naomi Judd, we appreciate the bravery of the Judd family to open the discussion around mental health and, specifically, suicide,” says Tony Coder, Chairperson of AAS, “Naomi Judd was a giant, an accomplished talent who saw the importance of connectedness by sharing her story. The mission of AAS provides opportunity to be better positioned as a field to support the millions of people affected each year.”

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) recognizes that disclosing methods of suicide is a deeply personal and impactful choice for loved ones. AAS recommends media partners to avoid exact details on location and method of suicide when reporting on suicide. We mourn the death of Judd, as we also mourn the death of the other 125 people who die by suicide each day in the US. “In these conversations, we encourage media to follow our safe reporting recommendations to honor those grieving, as well as minimizing risk, and aim to increase awareness on this public health issue,” said Coder.

Firearm deaths account for just over half of all deaths by suicide- an estimated 64 people every day (CDC, 2022). Addressing access to lethal means, such as the storage of firearms unlocked and loaded, provides an elevated risk for those living with suicidal thoughts. Means safety – separating the firearm from ammunition and use of firearm safes and locks – is a promising tool for lowering the national suicide rate through a specific focus on firearms. AAS asserts that the success of such an initiative hinge on the development of collaborative relationships with the firearm-owning community.

“As a suicide loss survivor and crisis services professional, I have a sense of compassion and empathy for the position Judd’s daughters find themselves in. It is important to recognize the complexity in not only grieving a parent but doing so in the public” reflects Amelia Lehto, Chief of Staff for the American Association of Suicidology. Recent research found that for every death by suicide approximately 135 people either knew or cared for the person. That equates to well over 6 million people in the US annually, which the Judd sisters, Ashley and Wynonna, now tragically find themselves. There are resources available to support people who identify as suicide loss survivors.

Resources available for support:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255
Veterans Crisis Line – 800-273-8255, Press 1
Crisis Text Line – Text START to 741741
The Trevor Project – 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860


For the media: We urge members of the media to share suicide prevention resources in their coverage. Responsible reporting on suicide and the inclusion of stories of hope and resilience can prevent more suicides. You can find more information on safe messaging around suicide here –

About AAS: Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes suicide as a research discipline, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention. You can learn more about AAS at

Anthony D. Wood
American Association of Suicidology
[email protected]
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