Naomi Judd’s family denounces the ‘irresponsible publication’ of the death investigation findings

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Naomi Judd’s family — Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd, and Wynonna Judd — at the Naomi Judd: A river of time Celebration on May 15, 2022. (Photo: Mickey Bernal/Getty Images)

Naomi Judd’s family has criticized media coverage of her death by suicide.

Ashley and Wynonna Judd, as well as Naomi’s husband, Larry Strickland, shared a statement on social media calling out the “irresponsible publication of … details and images” related to Naomi’s April 30 death. This week, various media published the findings of the death investigation. The eldest member of the Grammy-winning mother-daughter duo The Judds died at the age of 76 after battling mental illness, and the official cause of death was soon ruled a suicide.

“Our family is deeply saddened by the irritating, irresponsible publication of and continued requests for details and images of the death of our beloved mother and wife by suicide because of the trauma and damage it causes to those viewing such material and the risk of contamination. that they form for those who are vulnerable to self-harm,” the statement said. “This so-called ‘journalism’ is just the crassest way to monetize a family’s suffering and desperation, and a blatant, cynical disregard for the common good. It is also a profound violation of our right to a modicum of decency and privacy at death.”

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It assigned the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for help in safely reporting suicide in the media “to prevent retraumatization of survivors from such a devastating tragedy.” The organization’s chief medical officer, Dr. Christine Yu Moutier, shared best practices on how to deal with this, including not publishing the method of a suicide, photos, notes, or other details that “could contribute to suicide contagion.”

While no specific outlet was mentioned, the statement referenced the publication of a note left by the “Love Can Build A Bridge” singer. The family clarified that the note “came from the complex illness of mental illness and not” Naomi’s heart.

The family called for legislation to keep police reports in suicide cases private — pointing to a bill in Tennessee that could potentially limit access to death certificates, investigative reports and 911 calls if no crime is involved in the person’s death.

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“We hope that the public and elected officials will now join us in understanding the great importance of strengthening and amending the state’s privacy laws so that police reports of death by suicide are not effectively a public record,” the family wrote. “The consequence of the law as it stands only serves the cowardly gossip economy and has no public value or good.”

Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd in Washington, DC in Washington, District of Columbia (Photo by Louis Myrie/WireImage)

Naomi Judd, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd. (Photo: Louis Myrie/WireImage)

Naomi, who wrote about her battle with mental illness in her 2016 memoir River of Time: my descent into depression and how I emerged with hopedied at her home in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., one day before The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and 18 days after the mother-daughter country duo announced their farewell tour.

In August, the family filed a petition to seal the transcripts and recordings of the death investigation. Ashley, an actress in A time to kill like a UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, wrote in an op-ed that it was “the most shattering day of my life” and would “only get worse if the details surrounding her death are revealed by Tennessee law that generally allows police reports, including family interviews, of closed investigations are made public.”

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In December, the family voluntarily dropped the lawsuit. The decision was made because the media requests did not include bodycam footage taken inside the home or pictures of Naomi. In addition, the new bill had been introduced to make death investigation data private in Tennessee, which was referenced in the statement, and they would work to support it instead.

That same month, Strickland spoke out about his wife’s 33-year battle with depression, saying, “[It] it just never occurred to me that she was as sick as she was… She was on the couch a lot and I was constantly [say], ‘Get up, you have to get up, you have to move. You’ve got this tour coming up, you need to get well or you’re not going to make it.’ And I would get mad because she wouldn’t move, no matter what I said, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her to move. I was not compassionate.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.