The tragic death of Naomi Judd and our on-going suicide by gun epidemic

It takes a village.

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Ashley Judd revealed on Good Morning America this morning that her mother, Naomi, used a firearm to kill herself in late April, after suffering for years from depression. It’s a heartbreaking thing for the family to have to talk about, but Judd recognized that if they didn’t open up about it, the manner of Naomi’s death would become a part of the “gossip economy.”

“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 on inside … the regard they had for her couldn’t penetrate her heart.”

While I recognize that the conversation around mental illness and depression is the most important one to be having about Naomi Judd and her tragic death, I also appreciate the family being very clear about how she took her life, as painful as it is for them, because I believe we as a country need to talk more about suicide by firearm.

Our country’s lax gun laws and ready availability of firearms makes what might be a fleeting impulse all too easy to carry out. In fact, our suicide by gun rate is 12 times higher than our peer nations, having access to a gun triples your risk of suicide, and for young Americans, the suicide by gun rate has increased more than 50 percent over the past 10 years. Yes, there will always be people who will be determined to end their lives even if a firearm is not available. But for those people who are just in a moment, maybe intoxicated, or overly emotional, or too young to really understand the consequences of their actions, disrupting their access to a gun might be the most important life-saving actions we can take. I’ve lost three people to suicide by gun, and each of their deaths was impulsive, in-the-moment terrible decisions. I firmly believe they would still be here today had they not had access to those guns. It’s heartbreaking, and it is shameful that we as a country have decided in the midst of a suicide epidemic that we can’t, and we won’t do anything about it.

If you or someone you care for needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24 hours a day, at 1-800-273-8255.


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In Development

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Mark Your Calendars

  • Resident Evil will premiere on Netflix on July 14.
  • Cha Cha Real Smooth will debut on Apple TV+ on June 17.
  • First Kill will premiere on Netflix on June 10.
  • South Park The Streaming Wars will debut on Paramount+ on June 1.
  • The Deep End will premiere on Freeform on May 18.
  • P-Valley will return on Starz on June 3.
  • Gangs of London returns on AMC+ later this year.
  • The Bad Seed Returns premieres on Lifetime on May 30.
  • Not Going Quietly will stream on Hulu on May 13.
  • Helpsters will return on Apple TV+ on May 27.


Richard Wagner, Longtime CBS News correspondent


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