Ashley Judd is advocating for more discretion when it comes to publicizing autopsies and toxicology reports, especially for families who have lost a loved one to suicide.
On Thursday, the actress shared an essay she wrote for The New York Times, where she explained the pain she felt seeing information about her mother’s suicide become public without her consent. In a series of tweets, she reflected on the interviews she was “given no choice in doing” the day that her mother Naomi died.
“We need better law enforcement procedures and laws that would allow suffering families and their deceased loved one more dignity around agonizingly intimate details of their suffering,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that both autopsies and toxicology reports are public record.
“We have shared our story so openly, to raise awareness, reduce stigma, to help people identify, and make sure we all know we face mental illness together. What more do folks want us to give of our grief?” she concluded.
Naomi died in April at the age of 76, just days before she and daughter Wynonna were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as The Judds. In an emotional interview with “Good Morning America” in May, Ashley revealed that she discovered her mother during a routine daily visit to her Tennessee home.
“I went upstairs to let her know the friend was there, and I discovered her,” she said. “I have both grief and trauma from discovering her. My mother is entitled to her dignity and her privacy. And so there are some things that we would just like to retain as a family.”
Ashley said Naomi was dearly and openly loved by her peers, but that the severity of her illness was more powerful than any amount of adulation from the outside.
“When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It lies. It’s savage,” Judd said. “Our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. That was the level of catastrophe that was going no inside … the regard they had for her couldn’t penetrate her heart.”