Ashley Judd reveals mother Naomi Judd died from a self-inflicted 'firearm' wound
In a video interview that aired on the ABC news show Thursday, Judd said her specific cause of death was a "firearm" wound. Judd prefaced that while it would normally be too soon after Naomi's death to conduct such an interview, the family didn't want details to become part of the "gossip economy," whether through "the autopsy or the exact manner of her death."
The actress said her sister, Wynonna Judd, and father, Larry Strickland, "deputized" her to disclose the information.
"I'm tasked with an exceedingly difficult task in disclosing the manner of the way my mother chose not to continue to live," a teary-eyed Judd said. "I've thought about it so much because once I say it, it cannot be unsaid. And so, because we don't want it to be a part of the gossip economy, I will share with you that she used a weapon. Mother used a firearm."
She concluded, "So, that's the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand that we're in a position that if we don't say it someone else is going to."
Naomi Judd, the Grammy-winning country music legend, died April 30 at the age of 76. Her daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, released a joint statement saying they lost their mother to "the disease of mental illness," and PEOPLE later reported that her cause of death was suicide.
"My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish and that she was walked home," Judd said. "When we're talking about mental illness, it's very important to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It's very real and it lies. It's savage that my mother — our mother — couldn't hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. That is the level of catastrophe that was going on inside of her."
The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted the Judds, Naomi's band, into its ranks posthumously, one day after her death.
"The barrier between the regard in which they held her couldn't penetrate into her heart," Judd continued in her interview with Sawyer, "and the lie that the disease told her was so convincing."
The lie, she continued, was "that you're not enough, that you're not loved, that you're not worthy."
"Her brain hurt," Judd said. "It physically hurt."
Watch the full interview on Good Morning America's website.