Why Naomi Judd's Cause Of Death Leaves Fans With More Questions Than Anything Else

Fans are grieving the loss of a member of one of country music's most beloved families, The Judds' matriarch Naomi Judd. Naomi's equally-talented daughters, former bandmate Wynonna and actor Ashley, broke the sad news in a statement on Instagram. "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," they said. Naomi was 76 years old.

The "Young Love" hitmaker and her daughter Wynonna took the country music world by storm in the '80s. The duo scored a Grammy in the Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal category for their song "Mama He's Crazy" in 1984, the start of a streak that would see them take home more Grammy Awards in the following years. By the time Naomi and Wynonna had stopped performing together in 1991, the duo had a grand total of five Grammys and over a dozen No. 1 hits. In a 2021 interview, Naomi spoke to ET about their first Grammy win, saying, "Wynonna and I both said the same thing, that it felt like we were in a car crash 'cause it happened so fast it was life-changing."

Wynonna and Ashley didn't share an exact cause of death in their statement, leaving fans with lingering questions about the end of Naomi's life with the statement, "Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness."

Fans lament over Naomi Judd's death

Naomi Judd was rather candid about her history of mental illness. "What I've been through is extreme. My final diagnosis was severe depression," she said during a 2016 appearance on "Good Morning America." She described her condition as "treatment-resistant," but sought treatment through psychiatric facilities and various medications. With her mental health in tow, many users on Twitter had questions regarding the circumstances of Naomi's death, with many pointing to her recent CMT Music Award performance and her scheduled 2022 tour.

"Very sad news ... These pandemic years & all its exposed about humanity has made it harder than ever for people to find things to be positive about & a single reason to keep going," said one Twitter user. "I hope she finds the peace that she could not find here on Earth ... Love life everybody please," wrote another.

Naomi's death comes just one day before she and Wynonna were about to a huge honor: their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. "My mother, to me, is the queen of my parade — and it's time to celebrate her," Wynonna told People upon learning the news in 2021. And in addition to her daughters, Naomi is survived by her husband of 33 years, fellow musician Larry Strickland. "Naomi Judd's family request privacy during this heartbreaking time," he said in a statement to People. "No additional information will be released at this time."

Naomi Judd was preparing for tour before her death

According to The Washington Post, after 30 years of award-winning performances, Naomi Judd's career was stalled for two decades after she was diagnosed with hepatitis in 1991. The Nashville legend returned to the musical spotlight again during the 2022 Country Music Awards. Naomi and her daughter, Wynonna Judd, took to the stage to sing the ballad "Love Can Build a Bridge" together. Sadly, it would prove to be Naomi's last performance.

In April 2022, Naomi and Wynonna announced they'd be embarking on a "final tour" in the fall. Despite having struggled with physical and mental health issues throughout her life, it had seemed like Naomi was finally back on track again — leaving fans with yet more questions over her death. "The fans have always been my family of choice. I love them dearly, so I'm chompin' at the bit to belt out our hits and reconnect with them once again," Naomi told Live Nation. "The cherry on top is singing with my beloved, wild, and extremely talented daughter ... the best singer of any genre, Wynonna!"

The proud mom joked that her performing offspring asked if she was ready to get wild and let her hair down during the arena tour. "Heck yeah! I'm too old to grow up now!" Naomi declared. Meanwhile, Wynonna shared that she was psyched to make a return to performing again with her mom, claiming the tour was a "celebration" for their loyal supporters.

Naomi Judd's documented battle with depression

Naomi Judd had just reemerged into the country music spotlight again. She was preparing to tour with her daughter, Wynnona Judd, in the fall of 2022 — so her cause of death left fans with more questions than anything else. The fact that Wynnona and Ashley Judd referenced losing their mother to "the disease of mental illness" in their announcement hints at a tragic answer to the question.

During her 2016 "Good Morning America" interview, Naomi described her battle with depression as "completely debilitating and life-threatening." She shared that her mental health struggles stemmed from being molested by a "close family member" when she was a young child. She talked about the importance of publicly discussing depression and mental illness to help reduce the stigma that's still attached and give hope to others. "If I live through this, I want someone to be able to see that they can survive," Naomi told Robin Roberts.

The country music legend even wrote an open and candid book about her battle with depression. The summary for "River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope" shares that after being diagnosed with "severe treatment-resistant depression and anxiety," Naomi experienced a turbulent three years of different psych medication side effects and "terrifying therapies." In the memoir, Naomi admits things became so bad she even contemplated taking her own life on more than one occasion.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.