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Naomi Judd battled depression for years. It led her to advocate for others with mental illnesses.

In a statement released Saturday, Naomi Judd's daughters Wynonna and Ashley Judd said they had lost their mother to 'the disease of mental illness.'

Naomi Judd battled depression for years. It led her to advocate for others with mental illnesses.
Cover Image Source: Recording Artist and Author, Naomi Judd joins SiriusXM Host Charlie Monk in the SiriusXM Music City Theatre on November 15, 2017 in Nashville City. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Trigger warning: This story contains themes of suicide that some readers may find distressing.

Country music legend Naomi Judd, one half of the duo The Judds, died at the age of 76 last week. In a statement released Saturday, daughters Wynonna and Ashley Judd said they had lost their mother to "the disease of mental illness." According to NBC News, in recent years, Judd had been candid about her struggles with suicidal ideation, panic attacks and the ups and downs of her mental health battle. Her lifelong battle with mental health eventually led her to become an advocate for others struggling with mental health issues, offering words of empathy and support for those who also struggled with suicidal thoughts.


"Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness," the statement from the singer's daughters said. "We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory." Judd often cited the close of The Judds' "Last Encore" tour in 2012 as when her battle with mental health issues got particularly dark. In her 2016 memoir, "River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope," she revealed that her depression was at its worst after the tour as suppressed memories of a childhood molestation re-emerged.


"I never dealt with all the stuff that happened to me, so it came out sideways, as depression and anxiety. Depression is partly genetic, and I have it on both sides of my family," Judd said in a 2017 essay. "One of the aspects of my depression is that I was inert: I didn't get off my couch for about two years. There were days that I wouldn't brush my teeth; there were days that I wouldn't eat much. My girlfriends knew something was going on and would beg me to come out with them. They would talk me into going to lunch, or getting our nails done, or whatever, and then they'd come to get me, and I would lock the door and hide behind the curtains."


The singer revealed that things became so bad that her muscles atrophied from lack of movement and an elevator had to be installed in her home to help her traverse the floors of the house. In an interview with Good Morning America, Judd shared that she was diagnosed with treatment-resistant severe depression. "Treatment-resistant because they tried me on every single thing they had in their arsenal. It really felt like, if I live through this, I want someone to be able to see that they can survive," she said.


Speaking to PEOPLE at the time of her memoir's release, Judd revealed that during her bout of depression after the "Last Encore" tour she convinced herself that her family would rationalize and understand her desire to die. "It's so beyond making sense but I thought, 'Surely my family will know that I was in so much pain and I thought they would have wanted me to end that pain [through suicide],'" the icon shared. What stopped her from acting on her suicidal ideation, Judd said, was the thought of a family member finding her body.


An entire lifetime of battling mental health issues led to Judd advocating for all those going through similar experiences. She worked with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital "to try to reduce stigma and get the word out about treatment for mental illness," she wrote in 2017. "So I know now that there are almost 44 million people in America that experience mental illness in a given year. If you've got a pulse, then you're fighting some battle, whether it's a diagnosis of depression, like 16 million people, or one of anxiety, like 42 million people, or something else. And there's power in numbers: it means that there are other people. You're not alone."

If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (273-8255) or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line: 741741.

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