Ashley Judd wrote an op-ed for The New York Times about her mother Naomi Judd's suicide and the aftermath. In the essay, she asks that the interviews with herself and other family members conducted by law enforcement at the scene be kept private. “We ask because privacy in death is a death with more dignity.” She stresses that “The horror of it will only worsen if the details surrounding her death are disclosed by the Tennessee law that generally allows police reports, including family interviews, from closed investigations to be made public.
Ashley wrote that her mother was still barely alive when the police started questioning her about the suicide. She wrote, “I felt cornered and powerless as law enforcement officers began questioning me while the last of my mother’s life was fading. I wanted to be comforting her, telling her how she was about to see her daddy and younger brother as she ‘went away home,’ as we say in Appalachia.”
She continued, “Instead, without it being indicated I had any choices about when, where, and how to participate, I began a series of interviews that felt mandatory and imposed on me that drew me away from the precious end of my mother’s life. And at a time when we ourselves were trying desperately to decode what might have prompted her to take her life on that day, we each shared everything we could think of about Mom, her mental illness, and its agonizing history.”
Judd says that she knows the police were doing their job and were following their training. “I assume they did as they were taught. It is now well known that law enforcement personnel should be trained in how to respond to and investigate cases involving trauma, but the men who were present left us feeling stripped of any sensitive boundary, interrogated, and, in my case, as if I was a possible suspect in my mother’s suicide.”
Ashley closed the op-ed, writing, “At the beginning of August, my family and I filed a petition with the courts to prevent the public disclosure of the investigative file, including interviews the police conducted with us at a time when we were at our most vulnerable and least able to grasp that what we shared so freely that day could enter the public domain. This profoundly intimate personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the internet, or anywhere except in our memories.”
Wynonna posted on Instagram a link to the article. She captioned, “My sister has written an op-ed for the @nytimes. WELL DONE, @ashley_judd. I STAND BESIDE YOU AND WITH YOU IN THIS.”