Ashley Judd says late mom Naomi Judd's mental illness 'stole from our family'

Ashley Judd is supporting mental health initiatives on behalf of herself and her late mother Naomi Judd.

Nearly two years after the country music legend's death by suicide, her daughter Ashley Judd appeared on a panel at the White House on Tuesday in support of the Biden administration's newly formed National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

"I'm here because I am my beloved mother's daughter and on the day she died, which will be the two-year anniversary in one week, the disease of mental illness was lying to her, and with great terror convinced her that it would never get better," the "Someone Like You" actress said.

Naomi Judd died in April 2022 at 76. The country singer's daughters Ashley Judd, 56, and Wynonna Judd, 59, shared the news, saying, "We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness."

Ashley Judd discussed need for mental health initiatives following mother's death.
Ashley Judd discussed need for mental health initiatives following mother's death.

Judd said her mother "lived most of her life with an untreated and undiagnosed mental illness that lied to her and stole from her."

"It stole from our family, and she deserved better," she added.

Judd, who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, relayed how poor mental health has impacted her in contrast to her mother.

"I know the feeling of not wanting to be here, but I had a different experience because I went to treatment in 2006," she shared. "I've been in good recovery for 18 years and I've had a different outcome than my mother. I carry a message of hope and recovery."

In January, Judd elaborated on the complex grief she felt due to her mother's death, during an appearance on Anderson Cooper's "All There Is" podcast.

"The death of a parent is something for which we conceptually have some kind of preparation. And I also knew that she was walking with mental illness and that her brain hurt and that she was suffering, but that didn't necessarily prepare me," she said. "My mother's death was traumatic and unexpected because it was death by suicide and I found her. … I held my mother as she was dying."

Ashley Judd recalls final moments with late mother Naomi: 'I'm so glad I was there'

Despite the traumatic experience, Judd said she was "so glad" she was able to be there.

"The first thing out of my mouth was, 'Mama, I see how much you've been suffering and it is OK. It is OK to go. I am here. It is OK to let go. I love you. Go see your daddy. Go see Papa Judd. Go be with your people,'" the activist and actress said, adding she repeatedly told her mother that she could "be free" and that "all is forgiven."

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call 988 any time day or night, or chat online. Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline offers free, confidential, 24/7 support to survivors and their loved ones in English and Spanish at: 800.656.HOPE (4673) and and en Español

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ashley Judd talks suicide prevention 2 years after Naomi Judd's death